trailing arbutus


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trailing arbutus

trailing arbutus, Mayflower, or ground laurel, one of the best-loved American wildflowers, said by Whittier to have been the first blossom seen on these shores by the Pilgrims (introduction to “The Mayflowers”). The plant blooms in early spring; its creeping stems bear clusters of sweetly fragrant pink or white flowers that are sometimes hidden by the hairy evergreen leaves. The leaves were once used in making a diuretic tea and were also said to be astringent and tonic. Roots of the trailing arbutus live in a partnership arrangement (mycorrhiza) with a fungus (see symbiosis). The plant is difficult to cultivate, and its existence is endangered by the zeal of flower pickers. In its native habitat, trailing arbutus seems to prefer the acid soil of pinewoods of the eastern part of North America. It is the provincial flower of Nova Scotia and the state flower of Massachusetts, where a law protects the plant. The trailing arbutus (Epigaea repens) should not be confused with Arbutus, a related genus (including the madroño) also of the heath family. The names Mayflower and laurel are also used for other plants. Trailing arbutus is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Ericales, family Ericaceae.
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References in periodicals archive ?
I found a patch of trailing arbutus and stopped to smell its delicious scent--one that rivals the most fragrant of gardenias.
"I found trailing arbutus there and that's just about as acid-loving a plant that there is." One day last October, Miller and a friend found 15 new plants bringing the list to about 500 recorded species.
The trailing arbutus was in blossom, and popple was in leafy green, and the snow was all gone, but the ground was wet.