Partridgeberry, a.k.a. Squaw Vine, Beautifies Our Pennsylvanian Woodland Paths

Partridgeberry, Mitchella repens, blooming along woodland paths in central Pennsylvania lends a bit of color to the brown forest floor. Dark green foliage, accented here and there with white or light-colored veins, still bears crimson berries left over from last year.

Partridgeberry gives an evergreen feel to the mixed hardwood forests of Pennsylvania.
Partridgeberry gives an evergreen feel to the mixed hardwood forests of Pennsylvania.

The white, tubular-shaped flowers come in pairs at the ends of creeping branches along the ground. The fringy blooms coalesce to create a single, edible fruit in the fall, which can last the whole year long.

The trumpet-shaped flowers may be pinkish to white and usually have four petals.
The trumpet-shaped flowers may be pinkish to white and usually have four petals.

Nature guide books indicate that Partridgeberry, also known as Squaw Vine, has 4 regular parts, and so, most of us would look for flowers having 4 petals, 4 stamens, and so on, if we were looking for a specimen. Indeed, a majority of the partridgeberry flowers do have four petals, but I found quite a few examples having five petals.

The more common four-petaled variety of Squaw Vine.
The more common four-petaled variety of Squaw Vine.
A few examples of the five-petaled variety of Squaw Vine.
A few examples of the five-petaled variety of Squaw Vine.

Growing along the same path, but not on the same plant, and separated by some 50 feet or more, this large grouping of five-petaled partridgeberry illustrates one of the tenets of nature that states diversity rules. Perhaps this small freak of nature will some day benefit the species to it’s continued survival.

At the least our five-petaled partridgeberry is a curiosity!
At the least our five-petaled partridgeberry is a curiosity!

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