Trailing Arbutus Plant Information
Trailing Arbutus grows in the following 29 states:Connecticut, District Of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia
Epigaea repens- known as mayflower or trailing arbutus- is a low, spreading shrub in the Ericaceae family. It is found from Newfoundland to Florida, west to Kentucky and the Northwest Territories.
The species flowers are pink, fading to nearly white, very fragrant, about .5 inches (1.3cm) across when expanded, few or many in clusters at ends of branches. Calyx of five dry overlapping sepals; corolla salver-shaped, the slender, hairy tube spreading into five equal lobes; 10 stamens; one pistil with a column-like style and a five-lobed stigma. Stem: Spreading over the ground (Epigaea = on the earth); woody, the leafy twigs covered with rusty hairs. Leaves: Alternate, oval, rounded at the base, smooth above, more or less hairy below, evergreen, weather-worn, on short, rusty, hairy petioles.
Slow growing, it prefers moist, acidic (humus-rich) soil, and shade. It is often part of the heath complex in an oak-heath forest.
Epigaea repens is the floral emblem of both Nova Scotia and Massachusetts. Digging up one in Massachusetts is punishable with a $50 fine.
The Algonquin of Quebec use an infusion of leaves for kidney disorders. The Cherokee use a decoction of the plant to induce vomiting to treat abdominal pain, and they give an infusion of the plant to children for diarrhea. An infusion is also used for the kidneys and for "chest ailment". They also take a compound infusion for indigestion.
The Iroquois use a compound for labor pains in parturition, use a compound decoction for rheumatism, take a decoction of the leaves for indigestion, and they also take a decoction of the whole plant or roots, stalks and leaves taken for the kidneys.
The Forest Potawatomi regard this as their tribal flower and consider it to have come directly from their divinity.
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