Mitchella repens; Rubiaceae
Last one for the “what’s green now’ feature. Growing in tiny pockets of soil, cascading along rocks, never more than an inch tall (but often many feet long), partridgeberry is one of my favorites. Look for the twin blossoms
in late May, and the two-eyed fruit
in late July.
How can you not love this plant? It’s adorable. And tough.
I have no idea which species is pictured, but mosses do stay green through the winter. I’m running out of content for this feature. Just one left.
Tipularia discolor; Orchidaceae
Aplectrum hyemale; Orchidaceae
Yes, orchids. I know, I keep writing about them. I can’t help it. I’m in love. Look for puttyroot blooming in mid May, and cranefly in late July.
Potentilla canadensis; Rosaceae
I can find no source to confirm that this plant is a true evergreen. There are still-green leaves of it, but not many – and dwarf cinquefoil is everywhere. So I have to conclude that there are some leaves that are protected enough to last.
Some authorities consider dwarf cinquefoil to be weedy. It is very low-growing and prefers disturbed, low-nutrient soils, but does that make it a weed? Not in my eyes. Look for the charming rose-like flowers starting in late April.
Silene caroliniana; Caryophyllaceae
This one just took me by surprise. I went to a favorite area that has some unusual plants, and saw two that I didn’t know were evergreens (I’ll post about the other one next time). Apparently this one is a semi-evergreen, which usually means the leaves will survive a mild winter. Wild pink is endangered in Florida and exploitably vulnerable in New York. Start looking for the flowers in early May.
Oh, and about that common name… one internet source says that the word “pink” used to describe color came from the common name of flowers in the genus Dianthus. For some reason I had it in mind that the word “pink” in describing flowers of the Caryophyllaceae came from an old word meaning “to cut a decorative edge” – like what you use “pinking shears” for. I can’t find a source to support that claim, though. If anyone reading this is an expert in English etymology and would care to post a reply, I’d be grateful.
Ilex opaca; Aquifoliaceae
According to the US Forest Service, American holly is “the hardiest known broadleaf evergreen”. Despite the cold tolerance, it’s a plant of the southeastern US, although it does grow along the Atlantic coast as far north as Massachusetts. And considering how popular it is in horticulture (over 1,000 known cultivars), it’s a little surprising that it’s listed as threatened in Pennsylvania and exploitably vulnerable in New York.
Sadly I have no pictures of the flowers, which are small, white, and inconsequential, or the berries.
More detailed information from the USFS here.
Heuchera americana; Saxifragaceae
Like rock polypody, alumroot grows right out of rocks, or rocky areas with thin soils. Cultivars of Heuchera species are common in the nursery trade; look for them under the common name “coral bells”. They make for nice texture in a shade garden, or as a groundcover near trees (if tree roots don’t out-compete them), though they won’t tolerate foot traffic.
This not-so-good photo is of the exact same plant shown above, taken in early June 2014. Note the Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) cascading around it.