Partridgeberry is a small green vine that grows on the forest floor of eastern north america.
Not many people know this plant, but it can be quite common and has an edible berry which is great for survival situations and as a quick hiking snack.
So today let’s wander into the world of partridgeberry with everything from identification and edible qualities to growing locations & botany.
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Partridgeberry is a small green vining plant with opposite leaves in sets of 2. It forms white flowers in spring and red berries in late summer that sometimes last through the winter.
This plant is easiest to identify in the autumn season heading into winter because their bright red berries remain long into cold weather.
The berries have two distinct marks on top from the fusion of the double flower set. The leaves also have a very prominent white central leaf vein.
This plant grows exclusively on the forest floor without climbing other trees or plants. It enjoys shade and moisture and only grows a few inches tall.
In spring, look for twin white flowers with 4 petals, each coming off at the leaf node.
From these two white flowers, a single red berry forms but retains the double structure.
Is Partridgeberry Edible?
Partridgeberries are edible. The taste is a bit subtle but definitely enjoyable. Many sources describe these berries as bland, but I find they have a bit of a minty flavor.
Partridgeberries are a bit crunchy because of their large seeds, but they make a nice foraged snack in the woods.
In some places the berries can be quite common, but they’re relatively small and sparse on the plants. Being a ground covering vine, you also need to bend all the way to ground level for harvest.
You probably won’t be able to gather enough for jams or preserves, but it’s still a great edible to know.
Partridgeberry Medicinal Qualities
Historically, the Partridgeberry plant has been used by midwives to ensure a healthy pregnancy.
It hasn’t been widely studied by modern medicine, but I did find one study done on mice that indicated it could help induce labour.
I wasn’t able to find any information on traditional preparations or dosages.
Where Does Partridgeberry Grow?
Partridgeberry is a forest species that lives under the canopy of full grown trees. It spreads out like a groundcover, but is also happy to share the growing space with other plants.
It grows in forests east of the great plains from Texas to the atlantic coast, north to Newfoundland and south to Florida.
The above photo shows wild partridgeberry growing in a mixed oak, beech & pine forest alongside wintergreen. Wintergreen makes a great tea and also has small edible berries.
If you live in a dry climate like Texas, you may also notice an association with moisture and wet growing conditions.
Partridgeberry is in the Madder plant family, along with another common northern edible called cleavers or bedstraw. It’s also related to coffee.
Most plants in the Madder family are tropical species, making partridgeberry a unique family to study in northern areas.
The latin name for partridgeberry is Mitchella Repens.
Other Names For Partridgeberry
Partridgeberry has many other common names, including twinberry, cranberry, two-eyed berry & squaw vine.
In some cases these names are also applied to other plants so it’s important to make sure you’re researching the correct plant.