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Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry)
Cressler, Alan

Mitchella repens

Mitchella repens L.

Partridgeberry, Twinberry, Running Box, Pigeon Plum

Rubiaceae (Madder Family)


USDA Symbol: mire

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N), SPM (N)

A trailing, evergreen herb with white, fragrant, tubular flowers in pairs. Partridgeberry is a creeping, perennial herb, no taller than 2 in. high. All parts are dainty, including its pairs of small, rounded, evergreen leaves; tiny, trumpet-shaped, pinkish-white flowers; and scarlet berries.

A most attractive woodland creeper with highly ornamental foliage, it can be used as a groundcover under acid-loving shrubs and in terraria in the winter. The common name implies that the scarlet fruits are relished by partridges, and they are consumed by a variety of birds and mammals. Indian women drank a tea made from the leaves as an aid in childbirth.


From the Image Gallery

17 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: 1 to 2 inches high
Leaf: Dark green
Flower: Flowers 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch
Fruit: Red, occasionally white 1/4 to 1/2 inch

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct
Bloom Notes: Blooms appear in pairs.


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: N.S. to FL, w. to MN, s.e. MO & e. TX. Eastern North America, Zones 4 to 8
Native Habitat: Dry or moist woods; stream banks; sandy slopes

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low , Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Humus-rich, acidic soil. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Acid-based
Conditions Comments: This is a good ground cover for shady, undisturbed locations. It is sensitive to disturbance and needs to be kept moist unless it is in soil rich enough and a location shady enough that it can retain adequate moisture. If it begins to wilt from drought stress, water within two days or it will start to die.


Use Ornamental: A low-growing, evergreen groundcover for rich, woodland soils in eastern North America
Use Wildlife: Fruit consumed by Ruffed Grouse, Bobwhite Quail, turkeys, skunks, and White-footed Mice
Use Medicinal: Indian women drank a tea made from the leaves as an aid in childbirth. (Niering)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds


Propagation Material: Root Division , Seeds , Softwood Cuttings
Description: The stems root when in contact with soil, a phenomenon known as layering, so the easiest way to propagate is by dividing or cutting the trailing stems. Cut a 6-12 in. piece from the leading tip of the plant in spring, carefully uprooting the section to avoid breaking off the small roots. Place cuttings in a rich, well-drained site with adequate moisture.
Seed Collection: Approximate collection date in northern U.S.: Sept. to mid Oct.
Seed Treatment: Moist stratification (40 degrees for 6 weeks) if stored or planted in indoor flats.
Commercially Avail: yes

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Groundcover for sunny yard in New Jersey
July 23, 2008
Hi. I'm looking for ground cover for a mostly sunny section of my yard. The ground we are looking to cover is next to a slight hill with in a few feet of an in ground pool. I would like something tha...
view the full question and answer

Removing and replacing juniper bushes
June 20, 2008
Hi! I'm pulling up juniper bushes. (just don't like it) I'm getting down to the roots now on one side and I'm having a hard time getting them up. Any recommendations. They are near my drive...
view the full question and answer

Native ground cover to replace grass in Florida.
February 04, 2008
Where can I find a list of ground covers to replace my grass. I live in the south of Ocala Florida.
view the full question and answer

Plants for shade native to New York
June 13, 2006
I am gradually trying to convert my garden to all natives. I am working in a shaded area under a maple tree. Are there any varieties of epimediums/barrenwort or hellebores that are native to the nor...
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Pineywoods Native Plant Center - Nacogdoches, TX
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Research Literature

Reslit 2053 - Heterostyly in Mitchella repens (Rubiaceae) (1979) C. R. Keegan, R. H. Voss and K. S. Bawa
Reslit 2231 - The Morphology of the Flower and Inflorescence of Mitchella repens (1954) J. L. Blaser
Reslit 2309 - Reproductive Biology of Distylous Partridgeberry, Mitchella repens (1985) D. J. Hicks, R. Wyatt and T. R. Meagher
Reslit 2372 - Fecundity in distylous and self-incompatible homostylous plants of Mitchella repens (Rubiaceae) (1975) F. R. Ganders

This information was provided by the Florida WIldflower Foundation.
Search More Titles in Research Literature

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1994 VOL. 11, NO.6 - Wildflower Center Featured Non-Profit in Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, Dana Leav...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Mitchella repens in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Mitchella repens in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Mitchella repens


Record Modified: 2015-07-22
Research By: TWC Staff

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