Mayflowers

“April showers bring Mayflowers,” especially lately with all the recent rain and particularly in Massachusetts, where these fragrant little blossoms are our state flower. Commonly called Mayflowers, trailing arbutus or less elegantly, the gravel plant, Epigaea repens can be found hiding under pine needles and poking through fallen leaves, blooming between March and May anywhere from Newfoundland west to Michigan and from Saskatchewan south to Kentucky. The plant lies low on the ground with rust-colored hairy stems and leathery green leaves.

Mayflowers, no date
Mayflowers, no date

This image comes from a lantern slide and was likely taken by Emily Drew.  For a color picture, look here.

The clusters of dainty, fragrant pink flowers make a delightful and memorable bouquet. In earlier days, when woods were more abundant and available to children, when traffic passed more slowly, especially on a “Sunday drive,” many a child added to her allowance by gathering Mayflowers and selling the bunches of them at the side of the road. They were also a popular item in the May-Basket one hung on Grandma’s door to surprise her.

Have you ever made a bouquet of them? These unidentified ladies in an undated Emily Drew cyanotype might have.

Women with flowers, no date
Women with flowers, no date
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About LHR

We are the staff and volunteers of the Local History Room at the Kingston (Mass.) Public Library.
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