Squaw Vine Root - Mitchella repens
Squaw Vine Root, also known as partridgeberry, is a common sight on North American forest floors, attracting crafters with its deep green leaves and festive berries. This low-growing evergreen shrub is gaining popularity amongst gardeners as a subtle ornamental groundcover. Squaw Vine Root takes two to three years to mature, but will reward growers with a maintenance-free blanket of foliage that gives year-round visual appeal. Its woody stems grow only a few inches tall, but will spread for several meters, producing shiny, rich green, heart-shaped opposite leaves about a half in in length. Each spring will bring pairs of trumpet-shaped white flowers with four small petals and an enchanting light scent. Blossoms then give way to berries that will ripen to a bright red through the summer and fall, often persisting into winter. This shrub is hardy from zones four through nine and can be planted in any location, but prefers the partial shade conditions similar to those in its natural habitat. As a forest-floor dweller, it doesn’t suffer when covered with other leaves, making it an excellent choice for a groundcover beneath shade trees. Moist, well-drained soils are ideal, but after the vines are established, they will tolerate drought. The foliage will continue to be healthy and bright through even the coldest winters and the edible berries will attract hungry birds and small wildlife. Landscapers use Squaw Vine Root as accents near walkways or rocky features, knowing it will ensure predictable winter beauty in otherwise dull scenes. Popular for holiday crafts, the crimson berries bring decorators to the woods in fall and early winter to forage for vines that can be molded into colorful wreaths, blended into seasonal arrangements, or added to terrariums. Inside or out, Squaw Vine Root will dependably bring color and life to any setting year-round.