The Trailing arbutus is one of the best known, and best loved of Eastern American Wildflowers, and was said to be the first flower that the Pilgrims found when they stepped on the shore of the new world.
It is a white or whitish pink blossom, and is quite rare in how it function in a symbiotic relationship with fungus in the area.
In Pennsylvania and massachusettes the law protects the rarely seen flowers, while it is the provincial flower of Nova Scotia.
The Trailing arbutus is not particularly endangered but is difficult to cultivate and has been damaged by the vast numbers of those who admire it and would dig it up to attempt to grow it.
Trailing arbutus grow best in the acid soil of pinewoods of the eastern part of North America. from Maine to Pennsylvania pine forests, where it is often seen growing in the shade of pine trees.
The trailing arbutus blooms early in springtime, and very often can be seen through the snow, the small creeping stems heralding spring with tiny clusters of pink or pinkish white flowers and evergreen leaves which trail across the ground.
Native Americans in the area used the leaves for a diuretic tea and were also believed to use it steeped as an astringent, as well as a tonic for abdominal issues.
Roots of the trailing arbutus live in a partnership arrangement (mycorrhiza) with a fungus (see symbiosis ).
Fast Facts about trailing arbutus
• Family: Heath (Ericaceae)
• Habitat: acid soil in sandy or rocky woods
• Height: 1-2 inches
• Flower size: 1/2 inch across
• Flower color: pale pink or white
• Flowering time: March to May
• Origin: native