Other Common Names:
The other common names for the squaw vine are 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 and squaw-plum.
SQUAW VINE (botanical name Mitchella repens) is a low-growing evergreen shrub, native to eastern North America where it grows on sandy sub-strata on dry or moist knolls in woods from Newfoundland to Florida, west to Texas and Minnesota. This herb is also known as Partridgeberry, and contains alkaloids, bitter glycosides, tannin and saponins. It also has the amino acid tryptopan. The alkaloids and tannins work as a natural antiseptic, while the saponins regulate and stimulate childbirth contractions. An evergreen vine, partridgeberry grows up to a foot long, with a whitish, trailing stem. A ground-hugger, partridgeberry forms "mats" as it grows.
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. The leaf arrangement is opposite. Leaves can reach 2cm in length (0.75inches). Each leaf is entire often with an almost white central vein. The flowers occur in long-styled and short-styled forms, as in the primrose.
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. The leaves have no odour and are somewhat astringent and bitter. It is popular in winter terrariums because of its diminutive size and attractive colour contrast of berries and leaves.
Mitchella repens, North American plant of the madder family Rubiaceae, growing in dry woods from southwestern Newfoundland to Minnesota and southward to Florida and Texas.
It is generally seen in wooded areas, along streams and moist hillsides. The plant prefers light sandy and medium loamy soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soil.
The seeds germinate better if given 3 months cold stratification and so it is best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. Sow stored seed as early in the year as possible. Make sure that all the fruit pulp is removed from the seed because it contains germination inhibitors. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division of naturally layered stems takes place in the spring followed by cuttings. Being an evergreen herb, partridgeberry may be found all year round in the forest and woodland habitat it likes. Partridgeberry is best collected in flower between April and June.
The whole herb
of squaw vine is used
for its commercial
and medicinal purposes.
The flowers are white sometimes pinkish which blooms in late spring and continue into early summer.
Pests and Diseases
Squaw vine are very susceptible to several diseases, including various pathogenic fungi that have been found in association with leaf spots and twig blights. Allantophomopsis lycopodina Carris, or black rot, has also been reported. The spotted cucumber beetle and the oblique-banded leafroller have been found in the grass seed fields were harvested.
Medicinal and Commercial Applications
• It is used to promote easy childbirth, a tea of the leaves is taken only during the last few weeks.
• Squaw vine is also traditionally used as an abortifacient.
• Used as an astringent diuretic in most urinary disorders.
• A decoction of the entire plant can be used with raspberry leaves, to bring about easy labour in confinement cases. For many Penobscot, Montagnais, and Partridge berry is either steeped into an herbal tea, or the berries are consumed, sometimes in a jelly that is used for fever and often for reducing severe labour pains..
• As a lotion or salve, it is used to treat nursing mother's sore or cracked nipples.
• Squaw fine is used to slow heavy bleeding during menses. It strengthens the walls of the uterus and helps regulate the period.
• Squaw vine can be used to reduce joint pain from rheumatism.
• Squaw vine can be used to treat diarrhoea and intestinal inflammation.
• Partridge Berry is among the best remedies for preparing the uterus and whole body for child birth.
• It is useful for all forms of nervous feebleness and irritability of a chronic character.
• It is an astringent and is wholly tonic, and may be used for catarrhal and leucorrhoea discharges, as well as for chronic dysentery.
• A tea made from the berries has a very definite sedating effect on the nervous system.