The rarest charm hovers about the Trailing Arbutus which is, perhaps, more intensified throughout the New England States than elsewhere, because of Whit-tier's popular poetic legend regarding this species as the first wild flower to greet the Pilgrims after they had landed at Plymouth Rock, and also because it is said to have been named after their famous ship, the Mayflower. Arbutus is sold on the streets of our principal Eastern cities every spring, at so much per bunch, and this practice should be strongly discouraged, since the plant is becoming more restricted in territory and scarcer each year. It has frequently been discussed as a candidate for our national flower, and there is much personal sentiment attached to it. Above all, it is one of the most popular and highly rated of our wild flowers. It thrives best in shady, evergreen woods where the soil is sandy and rocky, and where it spreads its slender, rusty-brown, hairy, branching and leafy stalk from six to fifteen inches in length. It clings closely to the ground under dried leaves, grass and pine needles, and often forms large patches. The thick, leathery, alternating, evergreen leaves are nearly oval, and at their base they are slightly heart-shaped. They are toothless, strongly ribbed, and net-veined, green on both sides, and are set on short, hairy stems. The margin is wavy, and the surface is slightly rough. New leaves do not put forth until after the flowering season. The delicate, waxy flowers are rather large, and are closely clustered on the ends of the branches. Five rounded points spread from the tubular corolla, which is set in a small, five-parted, leafy, green calyx on a tiny stem. The pistil and ten yellowish stamens may be seen at the throat of the white or pinkish white blossom. The flowers are exquisitely fragrant, and when one considers their cool, damp surroundings so very early in the spring, they are exceedingly enticing. The Trailing Arbutus is found from March to May, from Newfoundland to the Northwest Territory and south to Florida, Kentucky, and Michigan.
TRAILING ARBUTUS. MAYFLOWER. Epigaea repens.