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A picture of a Trailing Arbutus

Trailing Arbutus

Epigaea repens

Also known as

Mayflower, Gravelroot, Gravel Plant, Ground-Laurel, Creeping Mayflower, American Ground Laurel, Crocus, New England Mayflower, Rough Leaf

Epigaea repens - Trailing arbutus 2 by Fritzflohrreynolds (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Full Shade
Moderate care
Moderate watering
Frost Hardy


RHS hardiness


Minimum temperature

Expected size








5 years to reach maturity


  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has a strong fragrance

More images of Trailing Arbutus

Some pink white Epigaea repens flowers
A flowering Epigaea repens plant in a garden
A close up of some white Epigaea repens flowers and green leaves on a plant
Some green leaves on an Epigaea repens plant
A close up of a pink flower on a Epigaea repens plant

Trailing Arbutus Overview

Epigaea repens is a low-growing, evergreen shrub species from the Ericaceae family. It has a spreading habit and is commonly known by the names Trailing Arbutus and Mayflower, amongst others. This plant originates from eastern North America, it can be found growing naturally from Newfoundland to Florida, west to Kentucky. It produces white-pink flowers in spring, measuring around 1.3cm in diameter. Both the trumpet-shaped flowers and the leathery leaves are fragrant, attracting both bird and insect-life. Leaves are oval in shape and produced alternately on stems, they are smooth on the upper surface and hairy on the underside, stems have bristly hairs. Mayflower, while difficult to propagate, make a lovely addition to a woodland garden, as they prefer to be grown in partial to full shade, in moist, rich and well-draining soil under a leaf mulch.

Common problems with Trailing Arbutus

May flowers are generally not bothered by pests or diseases.

How to harvest Trailing Arbutus

Seeds can be harvested. The little green balls which replace the flowers, split in midsummer to show brown seeds embedded in a white pulp. Collect quickly before birds or insects find them.

How to propagate Trailing Arbutus


Divide well-established tufts in autumn.


Sow ripe seeds shallowly in a shady position in a cold frame. Seeds sprout slowly. Germinations takes 3-5 weeks.


Layer branches as they root readily. Work gently as these plants do not like their roots to be disturbed.


Plant cuttings of previous year's wood in sandy soil, under a glass in gentle heat in spring. Once rooted, grow plants in pots until well established, and transfer in early autumn or spring outside.

Special features of Trailing Arbutus

Attracts useful insects

Both the leaves and flowers are fragrant inviting insects to visit.

Attractive flowers

Other uses of Trailing Arbutus


The leaves are used dried to make an infusion and fresh to make a tincture.