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Partridgeberry Fruit

partridgeberry-049a1637Partridgeberry (the fruit is eaten by partridges, or ruffed grouse, as well as wild turkey, mice, foxes, skunks and deer) is a woody vine found creeping along the forest floor, often in large colonies. At this time of year there are bright red berries interspersed among the paired evergreen leaves. If you look closely at a berry, you will see two indentations at its tip. These are the result of the flowers’ unusual structure and the fruit’s development.

In late spring a pair of white flowers appears which share a set of sepals. Each small, fragrant flower has four white hairy petals that join to form a tube. The unusual aspect of these flowers is that they both must be pollinated to obtain a single berry. Each berry is the result of the fusion of the ovaries of the pollinated pair of white flowers. This fusion is what accounts for the two indentations on the surface of each fruit.

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9 responses

  1. Alice Pratt

    Yet another unique and beautiful plant!

    November 21, 2016 at 7:27 am

  2. Who in the world took the time and trouble to figure out the quirky sexual features of the partridgeberry?

    November 21, 2016 at 7:28 am

  3. The plants in your photo (nice photo as always) have leaves that are a more ‘mellow’ green than the dark evergreen-green plants I know with similar form. I’ve grown up calling these “wintergreen”. The leaves taste like “Teaberry” chewing gum from the 1950s. Do partridgeberry leaves have that pleasant taste? Is there a plant with similar form but darker green color known as wintergreen?

    November 21, 2016 at 8:23 am

    • Tami

      Partridgeberry is in a different family than Checkered Wintergreen (Teaberry). Partridgeberry is in the bedstraw family, and wintergreen is in the heath family. The leaves don’t have that wintergreen smell when crushed, either.

      November 21, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    • As Tami wrote, the plant I think you’re referring to is American Wintergreen (also known as Checkerberry and Teaberry). Its scientific name is Gaultheria procumbens (Partridgeberry is Mitchella repens). Although these two woody shrubs resemble each other, they are, as Tami also said, in different families. Only Wintergreen has aromatic leaves and berries.

      November 21, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      • I like your distinguishing criteria of aroma Mary. I truly expected your partridgeberry to be my “checkerberry”. Thank you for noting the difference. I found this photo showing both plants in the same image. I can’t seem to attach it so here’s the link:

        Thanks again! I am very grateful.

        November 21, 2016 at 3:28 pm

  4. Fascinating… That indent is like a flower/ berry belly button!

    November 21, 2016 at 11:44 am

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