Epigaea repens (Trailing Arbutus)

Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913.  An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols.  Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York. Vol. 2: 692. Provided by Kentucky Native Plant Society. Scanned by Omnitek Inc.

Where Commonly Found:  Disturbed sites, forest edges and forests, sandy to peaty woods and clearings. CT, ME, MA, NH, NY, RI, VT

How to Identify:
(For unfamiliar words: Wikipedia Glossary of Botanical Terms).
Go Botany Key for Epigaea repens.
Wildflower Center’s description of Epigaea repens.   Click on more images.

Flower Color:  Pink to White, sweet-scented.
Flower Type: Trumpet shaped, in tight clusters, terminal and axillary
on hairy stems. Up to 8 tubular flowers in the upper leaf axils and tips of branches. Each flower is .5″ across and .3″-.5″ long.  The inside of the tub is covered in dense white hairs.
Flower Time:  Early Spring.
Leaf Arrangement:  Alternate
Leaf Type:  Simple, entire leaf margin, broad, oval, leathery leaves, evergreen and aromatic.  Leaves are stiff, .75″ – 4″ long and .5″ – 2 in. wide, toothless, egg-shaped to oval to oblong, somewhat heart-shaped at the base with a slender brown petiole.  Leaf surface is covered in long, still rust-colored hairs.
Seed Collection:  Greenish white berries, resembling raspberries, replace flowers exposing small brown seeds in a white pulp when the balls split in June.  Need to check frequently, as the seeds are very attractive to birds and insects.

Attracts:  Larval host to Hoary Elfin Butterflies, birds and ants are attracted to the seeds.
Use:  As it is difficult to establish, is best to appreciate if you have it and let it be…
Light:  Part to Full Shade.
Hardiness Zone:  3-8  USDA Zone Map
Soils:  Acidic, well-drained but moist, humus-rich.
Notes:  Epigaea repens is extremely difficult to establish, slow-growing and intolerant of disturbance.
Native to: Pretty much all of the US east of the Mississippi. Biota of North American, North American Plant Atlas.


Requested by Bronx River Wildflower Corridor, Roseanne Andrade.

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