This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In woods in the Eastern United States we have a very pretty trailing evergreen plant of small size known as Mitch-ella repens, and sometimes commonly called Partridge berry. The little plant is covered with bright red berries, about the size of holly berries, which when the flowers happen to be freely fertilized, are abundantly produced. It has been found of late years that the flowers are di-mor-phic. In some the stamens are long and the pistil short, in others the facts are reversed ; the result is that the flower rarely fertilizes itself, and only the flowers from a distinct plant are capable of fertilizing the flowers of another plant. A white-berried variety has occasionally been found, but it is of little practical value, because when removed to garden culture, and being effectually of only one sex, the berries are not produced. In its wild state it receives the pollen from the colored flowers about it.
It is interesting to note how nature seems to nearly repeat herself in different parts of the world, holding on to the same type, and yet varying just enough to make things different. It is this community of type which makes one guess at a theory of evolution, even though there were no positive facts to support the doctrine. Mitchella repens is confined to North America, and there seems to be nothing very closely allied to it, but in South America there is a real Mitchella, M. ovata, and besides a genus of a very few species, Nertera, which is so nearly like it, that species have been referred to both genera by some authors, uncertain to which they really belonged. One of these has been some time under culture, chiefly through the energy of Haage & Schmidt, of Erfurt, - Nertera depressa, a small cut of which we give with this sketch. Instead of red, as in our Mitchella, the berries are amber and set so thickly on the plant that often a leaf is scarcely to be seen.