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Plymouth Mayflower Epigaea repens

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Epigaea repens var. glabrifolia
Phonetic Spelling
ep-ih-JEE-ah REH-penz
Description

Trailing Arbutus is a native woodland sub-shrub in the Heath Family that grows as an evergreen mat in sandy to peaty woods and clearings. It grows best in part shade in dry to moist, acidic, sandy to rocky soils with moderate organic matter. In early spring delicate pink to white fragrant flowers appear in clusters.  It is becoming endangered in several states.

Trailing Arbutus has delicate roots and is very difficult to establish and perpetuate. It will not tolerate disturbance, is extremely susceptible to failure during drought or flood, and is slow-growing even in good conditions. It is best not to try to transplant it from the wild as it will most likely die. Conditions must be perfect for seeds to grow and they can be slow to germinate.

It is also called the Plymouth Mayflower as it is said it was the first flower the settlers saw blooming in spring after their first hard winter.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Linnaeus'
  • 'Plena'
'Linnaeus', 'Plena'
Tags:
#bees#evergreen#partial shade#fragrant flowers#slow growing#fragrant leaves#NC native#spreading#delicate#groundcover#woodland#larval host plant#food source spring#food source herbage#food source soft mast fruit#butterfly friendly#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Linnaeus'
  • 'Plena'
'Linnaeus', 'Plena'
Tags:
#bees#evergreen#partial shade#fragrant flowers#slow growing#fragrant leaves#NC native#spreading#delicate#groundcover#woodland#larval host plant#food source spring#food source herbage#food source soft mast fruit#butterfly friendly#audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Epigaea
    Species:
    repens
    Family:
    Ericaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The Algonquin used an infusion of the leaves for kidney disorders. The Cherokee took a decoction of the plant for abdominal pains. The Iroquois treated rheumatism with a compound decoction of the plant.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central & E. Canada to N. Central & E. U.S.A
    Distribution:
    USA: AL , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV Canada: NB , NL , NS , ON , PE , QC
    Wildlife Value:
    Host plant to Hoary Elfin (Callophrys polia) butterfly. Birds will eat the seeds.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wildlife Larval Host
    Edibility:
    Flowers are edible but the plant is protected in some states and they should not be picked.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 2 in. - 0 ft. 4 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 6 in. - 1 ft. 4 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Ground Cover
    Native Plant
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Horizontal
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    White
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Spring
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Description:
    Whitish berry, resembling a raspberry in appearance. displays from April to June.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Head
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Tubular
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Clusters of 1/2 inch fragrant, tubular, five-petaled, white to pink flowers bloom from February to May.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Leathery
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Undulate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    2- 4inch long and 1-2 inch wide bright green leathery oval leaves. The base of the leaf may be rounded or heart-shaped. The leaf edges have stiff, rusty-colored hairs. The margins are smooth and may be wavy.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Woody, trailing, hairy stems.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Native Garden
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies