(Chiogenes hispidula) Huckleberry family
FlowersVery small, white, few, solitary, noddingon short, curved peduncles from the leaf axils. Calyx 2-bracted, 4-cleft ; corolla a short 4-cleft bell ; 8 short stamens, each anther sac opening by a slit to the middle ; 1 pistil, the ovary 4-celled. Stem: Creeping along the ground, the slender, leafy, hairy branches 3 to 12 in. long. Leaves : Evergreen, alternate, 2-ranked, oval, very small, dark and glossy above, coated with stiff, rusty hairs underneath, the edges curled. Fruit: A snow-white, round or oval, mealy, aromatic berry; ripe AugustSeptember.
Preferred HabitatCool bogs; low, moist, mossy woods. Flowering SeasonMay June.
DistributionNorth Carolina and Michigan northward to the British Possessions.
Allied on the one hand to the cranberry, so often found with it in the cool northern peat bogs, and on the other to the delicious blueberries, this “snow-born” berry, which appears on no dining-table, nevertheless furnishes many a good meal to hungry birds and fagged pedestrians. Both the pretty foliage and the fruit have the refreshing flavor of sweet birch.
Pyxie; Flowering Moss; Pine-barren Beauty
(Pyxidanthera barbulata) Diapensia family
FlowersAbundant, white, or sometimes pink, about 1/4 in. across, 5-parted, solitary, seated at tips of branches. Stem : Prostrate, creeping, much branched, the main branches often 1 ft. long, very leafy, growing in mat-like patches. Leaves: Moss-like, very narrow, pointed, seated on stem, and oval.-lapping like scales, on upper part of branches.
Preferred HabitatDry sandy soil ; pine barrens.
DistributionNew Jersey, south to North Carolina.
Curiously enough, this creeping, tufted, mat-like little plant is botanically known as a shrub, yet it is lower than many mosses, and would seem to the untrained eye to be certainly of their kin. In earliest spring, when Lenten penitents, jaded with the winter’s frivolities in the large cities, seek the salubrious pine lands of southern New Jersey and beyond, they are amazed and delighted to find the abundant little evergreen mounds of pyxie already starred with blossoms. The dense mossy cushions, plentifully sprinkled with pink buds and white flowers, are so beautiful, one cannot resist taking a few tuffets home to naturalize in the rock garden. Planted in a mixture of clear sand and leaf-mould, with exposure to the morning sun, pyxie will smile up at us from under our very windows, spring after spring, with increased charms; whereas the arbutus, that untamable wildling, carried home from the pine-woods at the same time, soon sulks itself to death.