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Epigaea repens
Trailing arbutus 2006.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Ericaceae
Genus: Epigaea
Species: E. repens
Binomial name
Epigaea repens
L.

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.

Biological description[edit]

The species flowers are pink, fading to nearly white, very fragrant, about .5 inches (1.3 cm) 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.[1][2]

Symbolism[edit]

Epigaea repens is the floral emblem of both Nova Scotia and Massachusetts. Digging up one in Massachusetts is punishable with a $50 fine.[3]

Use among Native Americans[edit]

The Algonquin of Quebec use an infusion of leaves for kidney disorders.[4] 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.[5] An infusion is also used for the kidneys and for "chest ailment".[6] They also take a compound infusion for indigestion.[7]

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.[8]

The Forest Potawatomi regard this as their tribal flower and consider it to have come directly from their divinity.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Natural Communities of Virginia Classification of Ecological Community Groups (Version 2.3), Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, 2010
  2. ^ Schafale, M. P. and A. S. Weakley. 1990. Classification of the natural communities of North Carolina: third approximation. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation.
  3. ^ Seuling, Barbara (1997) [1975]. Wacky Laws. Scholastic. ISBN 9780590764841. 
  4. ^ Black, Meredith Jean 1980 Algonquin Ethnobotany: An Interpretation of Aboriginal Adaptation in South Western Quebec. Ottawa. National Museums of Canada. Mercury Series Number 65 (p. 216)
  5. ^ Taylor, Linda Averill 1940 Plants Used As Curatives by Certain Southeastern Tribes. Cambridge, MA. Botanical Museum of Harvard University (p. 48)
  6. ^ Hamel, Paul B. and Mary U. Chiltoskey 1975 Cherokee Plants and Their Uses -- A 400 Year History. Sylva, N.C. Herald Publishing Co. (p. 23)
  7. ^ Hamel, Paul B. and Mary U. Chiltoskey 1975 Cherokee Plants and Their Uses -- A 400 Year History. Sylva, N.C. Herald Publishing Co. (p. 23)
  8. ^ Herrick, James William 1977 Iroquois Medical Botany. State University of New York, Albany, PhD Thesis (p. 410)
  9. ^ Smith, Huron H. 1933 Ethnobotany of the Forest Potawatomi Indians. Bulletin of the Public Museum of the City of Milwaukee 7:1-230 (p. 118)

External links[edit]

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