Partridge-berry – Mitchella Repens: Edible & Medicinal Uses of the Uterine Tonic of Wild Plants

Table of Contents

Partridge-berry, not to be confused with wintergreen or cranberries, also sometimes called partridgeberries, or for lingonberry. Partridge-berries are an edible and medicinal evergreen vine, non climbing, with double-berry fused red fruits. The leaves have white veins.

Partridge-berry (mitchella repens) is common around Haliburton, Ontario. The first specimen I found was on a rocky outcrop along a dirt road. I would have walked right past it if I hadn’t noticed the bright red berries:

Partridge-berry Mitchella Repens
Partridge-berry Mitchella Repens

Edible Uses of Partridge-berry

Partridgeberries are edible, but they’re nearly tasteless. You may get a hint of wintergreen in a strong tea.

The berries can be used in recipes, fresh or dried, but the grouse and wild turkeys may appreciate them more.

Medicinal Uses of Partridge-berry

Partridge-berry is primarily said to support these body systems:

  • Reproductive

Medicinal tags include Astringent, Diuretic and Emmenagogue. See Medicinal tag key for more information.

Common usage includes fresh aerial parts in a tea in the weeks before delivery and during childbirth, to prevent severe labor pains and for nerves. You can combine it with raspberry leaf too. It’s at risk in some areas due to potential overharvesting for this purpose. United Plant Savers recommends using cultivated and not wild harvested for this reason and suggests alternatives like motherwort and catnip as uterine tonics, raspberry leaf before childbirth, and peppermint for menstrual cramps. However, it’s easy to grow yourself.

Many herbalists and midwives use herbs like black and blue cohosh, evening primrose, patridge-berry and red raspberry for easing labor without harsh side effects.

Most other uses center around nipples and uteruses. From nipple creams to menses problems.

Partridge-berry Mitchella Repens
Partridge-berry Mitchella Repens

Alternative Uses of Winter Berry

It’s an ornamental, Christmassy evergreen for winter landscaping. You can also grow it in a terrarium for a natural centerpiece.

Growing Mitchella Repens

You need a male and female plant for berries. Sowing seeds is complicated but doable. Rooting cuttings is the easier route. It’s a great native groundcover in moist shady gardens and for our acidic soils around Haliburton.

It’s a beauty carpeting rocky outcrops, and along drives and walkways, same as wintergreen, except partridgeberry is a draping vine. I once saw a picture of it growing between the exposed roots of a tree trunk, which was stunning.


Don’t use during pregnancy with the exception of the final month (or close to) as it may potentially induce labor. There may be exceptions for women who have had trouble carrying to term, but be sure to work with an experienced practitioner in special cases.

And the Usual Cautions:

1) Most medicinal herbs, if edible, are meant to be eaten in moderation, even sparingly. Some require extra preparation. Tannins are toxic if consumed in excess.

2) People can be allergic or sensitive to nearly any plant; try new herbs one at a time at your own risk. For instance, saponins commonly cause stomach upset.

3) For medicinal use, I must recommend receiving a diagnosis and working with a reputed health care provider. I generally do not post specific treatments and dosages because I think that is best between you and your health care provider, and ideally monitored.

4) Anyone pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs should talk to a health care professional before adding new food items to their diet.

5) Many plants have look-a-likes, and sometimes they are poisonous.

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Edible and Medicinal Plants of Canada

Medicinal and Other Uses of North American Plants: A Historical Survey with Special Reference to the Eastern Indian Tribes

The Earthwise Herbal, Volume II: A Complete Guide to New World Medicinal Plants

The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies

Reader’s Digest Magic and Medicine of Plants

Planting the Future: Saving Our Medicinal Herbs

The Green Pharmacy: The Ultimate Compendium Of Natural Remedies From The World’s Foremost Authority On Healing Herbs

Mi’kmaq Medicines (2nd edition): Remedies and Recollections

The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine

Field Guide to Medicinal Wild Plants

The Herb Book: The Most Complete Catalog of Herbs Ever Published (Dover Cookbooks)

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