This week's wild edible is Partridgeberry!
-This plant is also known as squaw vine. The edible parts of this tiny plant are the berries and the leaves. Leaves can be eaten raw but are usually made into tea. The berries tend to be rather bland but make a great garnish or addition to other dishes such as salads and are high in vitamin C and antioxidants.
-This plant grows widely throughout much of eastern North America and can be found in any number of different habitats such as rocky woodlands, swamps, mossy areas, ravines, etc...
-The partridgeberry is a low-growing evergreen, spreading out up to 30cm across the forest floor only reaching heights of up to 10cm. The leaves and berries can be seen well into winter, provided the woodland inhabitants don't partake in them first. The leaves are dark green and oval shaped. They occur in opposite pairs and only get about 1/2cm long. The central vein (and sometimes lateral veins) are very light in color, almost white. The stem is range from light green to brown and can be hairy, with older stems being woody and smooth.
-You can identify this plant by its two distinct circular markings on each and every berry. In the spring and summer tiny white, trumpet shaped flowers covered in fuzz adorn this plant in pairs. As the season continues, a small red berry develops at the base of the flowers. One berry will develop per pair and where the flowers meet the berry is where the distinct markings on the berry are formed.
-This plant is thought to have some medicinal uses that include (but aren't limited to): an astringent; emmenagogue; diuretic; styptic; easing menstrual cramps, labor pains and easing delivery; applied topically for soreness from breast feeding; helping urinary tract disorders and infections; interstitial cystitis; diarrhea; kidney troubles; gastrointestinal disorders; IBS and many more.
**When identifying plants you are unfamiliar with, please use as multiple references, as well as help from experts when available. Unless you are 110% sure what a plant is, it is best to avoid it completely.
**If you plan on using any plants for medicinal uses, consult a healthcare professional, as well as botanist familiar in the field of wild plants. And as always, use as many references and expert opinions as possible when identifying a plant.
**Be sure to avoid any plants growing near roads, around chemicals, other poisonous plants, or polluted/contaminated water.
**As always, be sure to use the Universal Edibility Test to ensure the plant is the correct plant and to help identify any unknown allergies you may have.