A plant with red berries.

Mitchella repent

Keep your eye on the ground to spot this low-growing evergreen vine. Mats of glossy, dark green, rounded leaves will cover patches of lightly shaded spaces. From late summer to winter, the brilliant red berries (called drupes) form and dance above the leaves, making them easy to spot at this time of year.

Grow your own to clip and bring indoors to brighten your winter décor. Partridge-berry is best grown from potted stock or cuttings. For best coverage, plant several clumps in a part-shade location in slightly moist to dry soils. Plants prefer slightly acidic soils.

They can also be planted in gravelly or rocky soils, making partially shaded rock gardens an ideal location to showcase these low-growing plants. Plants will spread slowly over time when happy in a location.

In late May through early July, tiny white flowers emerge together in pairs. Bumblebees will visit for nectar. Later, game birds such as ruffed grouse and wild turkeys will eat the berries, particularly when other food is scarce. They’re edible, but mostly tasteless and too seedy for humans.

A reminder to keep our wild populations wild: do not collect plants from public properties. Check out our nursery list during the spring or fall planting season to see where you can buy your own partridge-berry and other native plants.

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