Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens)

Identification: Evergreen creeping vine six inches to twelve inches long with opposite roundish leaves on short petioles. In late spring, two beautiful white flowers (with one calyx) each open their four petals to entice insects to collect their nectar. Each blossom has one pistil and four stamens. The pistil in one is Partridgeberries
short and the stamens are long. In the other it is just the opposite. Because of this no flower can fertilize itself–all flowers must be cross-pollinated by insects, and both flowers must be pollinated to get a single healthy berry.
After fertilization, the two flower ovaries fuse, giving rise to a single red fruit. The two dimples on the fruit reveal its fused nature. A berry will stay on the vine until after the blooms appear in the spring unless a hungry bird finds it. Flowers and fruit are rare on this plant. A large area of ground may be covered by the plant and only a few flowers and berrys will be found.
Other Names: Partridgeberry, checkerberry, creep-chequer berry, deer berry, hive vine, one berry, running box, squawberry, squaw vine, twinberry, two-eyed berry, two-eyed chequer berry, winter clover.
Habitat: Rich woods. Indigenous to eastern and central North America. Partridgeberry can be found from southwestern Newfoundland to Minnesota and southward to Florida and Texas.
Flowers: May – July.
Family: Rubiaceae (Madder family)
Parts Used: Leaves.
Constiuents: Alkaloids, glycosides, saponins, mucilage, and tannins.
Medicinal Properties: Emmenagogue, diuretic, astringent, tonic, alterative.
Uses: Squaw Vine is reputed to promote an easy labor by aiding contraction of the womb during childbirth.The herb should be taken for some weeks before the child is due, thus ensuring a safe birth. It is also recommended for dysmenorrhea and other painful conditions of the female reproductive tract. It also has a calming effect on the nervous system and, in addition, improves the digestion.
As an astringent, it has been used in the treatment of colitis, especially if there is much mucus. On the mucous membranes, it exerts a mild tonic influence, which slowly abates excessive mucous discharges, and has led most herbalists to pronounce it an astringent; but this action is wholly tonic, and may be used for catarrhal and leucorrheal discharges, as well as for chronic dysentery. It may be used in nervous exhaustion, irritability or debility in either sex, especially when symptoms involve the reproductive system. Squaw Vine is useful for all forms of nervous feebleness and irritability of a chronic character. Past topical applications of Squaw Vine has included its use as an eyewash, as an astringent skin wash, and as a salve for sore nipples in lactating women.
Preparations and Dosages: Infusion: Pour a cup of boiling water onto one teaspoonful of the herb and let infuse for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day. Tincture: [Fresh Plant, 1:2, Dry Plant, 1:5, 50% alcohol], 1/2 to 1 teaspoon up to 3 times a day.

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