Botanical Name: Mitchella repens
Other Common Names: Twinberry, Running Box
Brief Description and Notes: Charming evergreen creeping groundcover, native to our region. Very adaptable and found all the way north to Canada and south to Florida. Often gets confused with wintergreen, due to their similar size and shape of green leaves and red berries. They also happen to grow in similar acidic environments. Two white flowers with a fused ovary give way to one fruit.
Where To Look For It: Shady areas with rich/moist acidic soil (it cannot tolerate drought); undisturbed soil in pine-hemlock forests, for example; near Rhododendrons
Ornamental Value: Evergreen groundcover, fragrant and attractive blooms, winter interest, bright red berries
Ecological Value & Roles: Many birds and mammals enjoy the red fruits
Edibility and Other Human Use: Leaves and berries are edible, but not as tasty as similar plants like wintergreen. Medicinal indications for leaves and stems include: easing menstruation labor, helping urinary issues, and possibly aiding in IBS relief.
Photo by R. A. Nonenmacher