Welcome to the West GA Chapter of the Georgia Native Plant Society.
The chapter was formed by a group of native plant enthusiasts, in September 2008, to serve the people in the western counties of the North Georgia piedmont.
We promote the use of native plants in home, commercial and community landscapes.
We rescue plants in danger of destruction by development, working with property owners and developers to relocate the native plants in an organized and safe manner.
We promote the restoration of native habitat and provide educational information about restoration to the public.
We discourage the use of non-native, invasive plant species.
You are invited to join us at our meetings, which are open to the public, and are held in the Carrollton Ag Center. Check out the Meetings & Activities page (link in the navigation bar, to the left) for meeting dates and to learn about other activities.
Please Note: Due to GPS issues, regarding the location of the Ag Center, please check the above link for accurate directions.
You are Visitor 102 since October 1, 2016
Partridge Berry, taken on October 9, 2006.
Photo Credit: Mike Strickland
Mitchella repens can do well in the home landscape.
What about a pretty plant that is somewhat of a curiosity? Check into Mitchella repens, also called Partridge Berry. This is a vine but it is a prostate grower instead of climbing. It also is quite tolerant of soil conditions from moist to quite dry as long as it is in shade or partial shade. Established plantings are quite tolerant of drought; a good watering within 2 days of wilting provides a surprising comeback. Natively you will find Partridge Berry growing best under conifers such as pines and hemlocks where the needles do not produce as heavy a leaf cover as do deciduous trees. In fact, this preferred needle vs leaf habitat is one reason that places Mitchella repens on the endangered plant list due to its heavy presence in hemlock forests that are beginning to die from environmental pressures. The other reason is that it has been wild-harvested too much for decorations during the winter holiday season due to its tidy, dainty, unique oval to round, glossy, dark evergreen leaves (to three quarters inch long) with whitish veins appearing in pairs along the stems. The red berry has a low fat content allowing it to resist decay and persist longer on this lovely vine for wildlife to enjoy.
Mitchella repens grows slowly as the stems creep along the ground in mat-shapes of about 1 foot providing year-round interest with about 2" of height. Additional roots may form from any of the stem nodes. In spring, the leaves accentuate the long, tubular, white, fragrant flowers and then in fall the leaves provide a backdrop for the red berries.
So what's the "curious" part mentioned at the beginning? In spring, a pair of fragrant flowers with a single calyx appear. Each small flower has four bright white petals that unite into a funnel shape. The pair of flowers occur in two forms; one form has a short pistil and long stamens, the other form has a long pistil and short stamens. This prevents each flower from fertilizing itself. Both flowers must be fertilized to yield the one berry (hence the additional common name of twin berry for this plant) as the two ovaries fuse together. Also, the single berry will have two dimples, the remnants of the two flowers. Although the fruit production for fertilized flowers is high (over 86 percent), flowers and fruit are not abundant at any one time.
Attractive to the human eye, Partridge Berry is also appreciated by wildlife. Bumble bees pollinate, the fruit is consumed by, yes Partridge, but also Ruffed Grouse, Bobwhite Quail, turkeys, skunks, white-tailed deer, and White-footed Mice.
The US Postal Service selected Mitchella repens to be one of the Nature of America stamps which may bring this plant more into the horticultural trade. Due to its "node-rooting nature", this plant is easily propagated by layering a stem to make a new "start".
Maintenance for an established planting is minimal other than making sure in fall to remove fallen leaves covering the plant which continues to photosynthesize through winter taking advantage of any sunlight that penetrates the woodland. For a new planting, you will need to monitor and provide moisture to assure its establishment.
Common uses for this plant include: This tiny groundcover is sensitive to ground disturbance and best sited in an area that has shade to partial shade. Although it does not need a wet environment, moisture is important especially while getting established. Drainage is also important so more of a woodland environment or a shaded rock garden is preferred to planting right at water or an area that remains wet. The plant co-exists well with shrubs and other larger plants as long as it can get dappled shade. Not an aggressive grower, Mitchella repens covers a small space beautifully; it is not considered appropriate for a large area. Be sure to plant where you can enjoy the lovely evergreen leaves, the white flowers, and then the long lasting red berries. Naturalizes nicely with other shade-loving natives. Morning sun is often okay.
Allow this beauty to clamber over tree roots, rocks, and hang off slopes where it can easily rid itself of leaves during the fall. Root some to use for holiday decorations. Due to its small size, Mitchella repens is often used in terrariums and fairy gardens.
Native Americans used an infusion of the leaves and berries to assist women as childbirth approached and to help expel afterbirth as well as other uses.