TRAILING ARBUTUS (Epigaea repens) belongs to the Heath family
With its thick, sturdy, waxy leaves canopying the tiny arbustus flowers, they are one of the first to appear along the mossy banks of the Appalachian trail as we wind ourselves up Tellico Gap in March or April.
The plant is really a dwarf shrub and is protected by federal law. The flowers vary in color from deep pink to pure white, and because of its delicate scent, they were previously used as perfume by mountain women.
Trailing Arbutus figures in Indian and folk medicine with a tea made from its leaves for kidney, bladder, & urinary tract problems. Modern scientific research supports the antiseptic properties of the plant but, caution! It is also toxic.
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