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Story of the Mayflower

Trailing ARBUTUS or Ground Laurel
Family: Epigaea
Meaning: On Earth

The name arbutus is given to several evergreen plants, all belonging to the heath family and ranging in size from the tiniest plant to a tall tree, the most common of which is the trailing arbutus. These fragrant clusters of waxy white blossoms (often tinged with a touch of pink), are considered one of North America’s most attractive wild flowers. These dainty flowers have strong heart-shaped leaves and “hairy” brown stems. The arbutus grows best in sandy or rocky soils, especially in pine woods, where it creeps along the ground, almost hidden beneath dry needles and leaves.  It is also the provincial flower of Nova Scotia. The name Trailing Arbutus reflects its similarity to the trees in the related genus Arbutus, while being much smaller and prostrate on the ground. the trailing arbutus is listed as an endangered species in some U.S. states.

In Indian folklore there is a beautiful story about about the lovely spring flower, the trailing arbutus.

The story goes like this: Each year when the winter spirit, Peboan, fell asleep, his discarded furs turned to icy leaves. Coming upon the icy leaves, one beautiful spring day, Segun, (known as the summer spirit) put the leaves  in her hair and they immediately  came to life. She was so enthralled, she planted them in the earth and breathed upon them. At the touch of her warm breath, pink flowers appeared, giving off the scent of spicy perfume. “When the children find these,” she said, “they will know that Segun has been here, and that Peboan has gone away.”

The trailing arbutus, is also known as the mayflower, because it was the first flower to greet the Pilgrims after their fearful winter. The trialing arbutus or Mayflwoer grows abundantly in the vicinity of Plymouth,   John Greenleaf Whittier, poet and Quaker wrote a poem called The Mayflowers …


Spring makes the world a happy place
You see a smile on every face.
Flowers come out and birds arrive,
Oh, isn’t it grand to be alive?