|These berries were still on the plant in the spring, even as it is getting ready to flower for the season|
Often called partridge berry, squaw berry, or two-eyed berry, Mitchella repens is a common, native plant in North America. It ranges from eastern Canada to Florida, and as far west as Texas. It prefers moist woods, and we find it often in conifer-filled forests of pine and hemlock, often blanketing the forest floor with its creeping stems.
The pair of flowers will produce one berry with two "eyes" on the underside. The berries ripen from green to bright red in July, and can persist on the plant through the winter and into the spring when the plant starts blooming again. There are several small seeds inside. While pretty and technically edible, the berries are mostly flavorless and a bit dry. They are great for kids to find and eat, and could go into a mixed wild foods salad. This is more of a survival food, as the berries last on the plant for so long, and can even be found under the snow. They are a good food source for many wild birds and small rodents in the forest.
|Berry underside, with the two "eyes" visible|