Herb: Partridge Berry

Latin name: Mitchella repens

Family: Rubiaceae (Madder Family)

Medicinal use of Partridge Berry:

Partridge berry was commonly used by several native North American Indian tribes as a parturient to hasten childbirth. It was also occasionally used to treat a variety of other complaints including insomnia, rheumatic pain and fluid retention. It is still used in modern herbalism as an aid to childbirth and is also considered to have a tonic effect upon the uterus and the ovaries. The herb is astringent, diuretic, hypnotic and tonic. Frequent doses of a tea made from the fresh or dried leaves were used by N. American Indian women in the weeks preceding childbirth in order to promote easy delivery. This tea should not be used during the first six months of labour, however, since it can induce a miscarriage. The tea is also used to treat delayed, painful or irregular menses. The tea was also used externally as a wash for hives, swellings, sore nipples, rheumatism etc. The leaves are harvested in the summer and dried for later use. A tea made from the berries has a very definite sedating effect on the nervous system.

Description of the plant:


5 cm
(2 inches)

to July


Habitat of the herb:

Dry or moist knolls in woods, on sandy sub-strates.

Edible parts of Partridge Berry:

Fruit - raw. Pleasant and slightly aromatic. Dry and tasteless, with lots of seeds according to another report. The fruit hangs on well on the bush. The fruit is about 8mm in diameter. A tea is made from the leaves.

Other uses of the herb:

Can be used as a ground cover plant in a shady position. Plants form a spreading carpet, rooting along the stems, and are best spaced about 30cm apart each way.

Propagation of Partridge Berry:

Seed - it germinates 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 in the spring. Cuttings.

Cultivation of the herb:

Dry or moist knolls in woods, on sandy sub-strates.

Known hazards of Mitchella repens:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.