An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide –

Trailing Arbutus Flowering!

10-30-17 trailing arbutus1 049A7260

One of the first wildflowers to burst upon the scene in April is Trailing Arbutus, Epigaea repens – a true harbinger of spring. This plant is also referred to as Mayflower and Plymouth Mayflower, as it was a welcome sight to the Pilgrims after their first winter.

It is a first for me to find this plant in flower at this time of year; I have never even heard of this occurring. The flowers are often well hidden beneath leathery, evergreen leaves, so can survive the cold temperatures in April and May, but they face much greater challenges flowering in late October. Most of their main pollinators (bumblebees) die with the first hard frost, which most of northern New England has experienced. And even if, by some stroke of luck, a lingering bumblebee did land on and pollinate a blossom, it’s very doubtful that even with our warming climate, there would be time for fruit to form and mature.  Certainly the energy used to produce fall flowers is an expense the plant can ill afford in its efforts to reproduce.   (Photo taken 10-28-17 in Hartland, VT)

19 responses

  1. Marilyn

    Amazing! I’ll go check on ours.

    October 30, 2017 at 8:17 am

    • Marilyn

      TheY are budding!

      October 30, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      • Robyn Deveney

        I wish we could post photos here :-/

        November 1, 2017 at 8:47 am

  2. David Govatski

    I saw a few flowers of sheep laurel on the Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail on Saturday and attributed it to Autumn echo. That is when you have similar hours of daylight in the spring and fall. Also saw some Twinflower blooming in northern NH a week ago and for late October that is pretty late.

    October 30, 2017 at 8:22 am

  3. Brenda

    Wow! Mary, thank you for documenting this. Trailing Arbutus was my grandmother’s favorite flower, and we placed some in her hands when she passed in early April of 1997.

    October 30, 2017 at 8:46 am

  4. Sara Demont

    Wow! I am curious…..was it on the way out to ponds on the left hand side where it is in the spring? Hugs, Sara

    Sent from my iPad


    October 30, 2017 at 8:59 am

    • No, I couldn’t find any flowering there, Sara. But it was your land! I can show you easier than I can describe where it was — over near the no-longer-used lodge where it’s now dried up…on the left as you turn in to go to the lodge. Will show you sometime!

      October 30, 2017 at 10:34 am

  5. Ive seen honey berry flowering and heard of apples flowering recently – and my currants have swollen buds…!

    Ben Falk, M.A.L.D. 802-343-9490


    October 30, 2017 at 9:00 am

  6. shiela swett

    Yet another sign of global warming? Weird…

    October 30, 2017 at 9:15 am

  7. Jane Marshall

    The other day I saw Crocus shoots popping up in the garden. Our warm Autumn must
    be confusing the Spring flowers.

    October 30, 2017 at 9:21 am

  8. Barry Avery

    Interesting! Some times MOther Nature is like us and just doesn’t obey the rules.

    October 30, 2017 at 9:44 am

  9. Alice Pratt

    Pretty little flower. Odd things happening in Mother Natures gardens, woods & meadows.

    October 30, 2017 at 10:22 am

  10. Wow. I’ve seen forget-me-not, dame’s rocket, wild mustard flowering again. And the wild chervil is putting out new growth. It’s surreal and rather creepy.

    October 30, 2017 at 10:30 am

  11. I’ll go root around and see if any around here are blooming. I’ve seen this fall-bloom maybe once that I can remember. I imagine blueberries and forsythia might be found abloom also.

    October 31, 2017 at 4:21 am

  12. Kate Kelly

    We saw what was likely shadbush leafing out a couple weeks ago. Not a good time of year for that!

    November 1, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    • I’m getting more and more reports of flower and leaf buds opening…

      November 1, 2017 at 1:17 pm

  13. Mayflowers (Trailing Arbutus) are my favorite flower. They have the sweetest smell. My mom would dig down through lingering snow in April to pick these and “force” the buds in custard cups covered by plastic-wrap. We were told not to pull up the roots but to clip the vine to preserve the established patch. It’s a tragedy they are blossoming now.

    Of note is the fact that you can spot beds of the dark-green waxy leaves along the closely mowed shoulders of interstate 91 between Massachusetts and Brattleboro. I’ve stopped (illegally) and dug up plants to try to transplant. ………….

    November 1, 2017 at 1:34 pm

  14. nancy sommer


    November 27, 2017 at 12:14 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s