Squaw Vine

Mitchella repens L.

Other common names: Checkerberry, partridgeberry, deerberry, hive vine, squaw-berry, twinberry, chickenberry, cowberry, boxberry, foxberry, partridge vine, winter clover, wild running box, oneberry, pigeonberry, snakeberry, two-eyed berry, squaw-plum.

Habitat and range: The squaw vine is common in woods from Nova Scotia to Minnesota and south to Florida and Arkansas, where it is generally found creeping about the bases of trees.

Description: This slender, creeping or trailing evergreen herb, a member of the madder family (Rubiaceae), has stems 6 to 12 inches long, rooting at the joints, and roundish-oval, rather thick, shining, dark-green opposite leaves about half an inch in length, which are blunt at the apex and rounded or somewhat heart shaped at the base, with margins entire. Sometimes the leaves show whitish veins.

The plant flowers from about April to June, producing fragrant whitish, sometimes pale-purplish, funnel-shaped and 4-lobed flowers, two borne together on a stalk and having the ovaries (seed-bearing portion) united, resulting in a double, berry like fruit. These fruits are red and contain eight small, bony nutlets. They remain on the vine through the winter and are edible, though practically tasteless.

Collection, prices, and uses: The leaves and stems (herb) are collected at almost any time of the year and range in price from about 31/2 to 4 cents a pound.

The leaves have no odor and are somewhat astringent and bitter. Squaw vine has tonic, astringent, and diuretic properties.


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