Partridge Kerry, a name sometimes applied to the common plant Gaultheriaprocum-hens (see Wintergreen), but which properly belongs and should be restricted to Mitchella repens. This genus was named by Linnaeus in honor of Dr. John Mitchell, a resident of Virginia and an excellent botanist. It belongs to the madder family (ruMacece), and consists of a single Japanese species besides our own, which extends from Canada throughout the states to. Mexico, and is also found in the mountains of South America. The partridge berry is a small trailing evergreen, with a much branching stem a foot or less long; it is common in dry woods, forming a dense mat about the foot of trees; the opposite short-petioled leaves are round-ovate, dark green, and often variegated with whitish lines; the flowers are in pairs, with their two inferior ovaries united, the tube of the funnel-shaped corolla about half an inch long, the limb with four spreading lobes densely bearded within, pearly white, often tinged with rose or purplish and very fragrant; the four stamens and single pistil are dimorphous, i. e., in some flowers the stamens are long and protrude beyond the throat of the corolla, while in other flowers this is reversed, the pistil being long and the stamens hidden within the tube.
The fruit is about the size of a whortleberry, broader than long, and being of two cohering ovaries shows the calyces of the two flowers; it is bright scarlet, and each half contains four bony nutlets in a white pulp. The berries remain on the plant through the winter, and it is not rare to find ripe fruit at the same time with the flowers in June. Other local names are one-berry, two-eyes, winter clover, and in some parts of New England checkerberry. The berries, while edible, are almost tasteless, and few care to eat them, but they furnish food for birds.
Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens).