Epigaea is a genus comprising three species of flowering plants in the family Ericaceae. The species are small creeping shrubs that are typically anywhere from 10 to 20 centimetres (3.9 to 7.9 in) tall at full growth, forming large patches. The leaves are evergreen, alternate and simple, ranging amongst the three species from 2 to 10 centimetres (0.79 to 3.94 in) long. The flowers are small, white or pink, with a five-lobed tubular corolla which is produced in mid-spring. The fruit is a dry capsule with numerous small seeds.

Trailing arbutus 2006.jpg
Epigaea repens
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Ericaceae
Subfamily: Ericoideae
Tribe: Phyllodoceae
Genus: Epigaea

Extant speciesEdit

There are three species:

Flower Name Description Distribution
  Epigaea asiatica (Iwanashi) Leaves with an acutely pointed apex Japan
  Epigaea gaultherioides Georgia and northeastern Turkey
  Epigaea repens (Mayflower or trailing arbutus) Leaves with a rounded or bluntly pointed apex. Eastern North America

Epigaea repens is listed as an endangered species in some U.S. states.


The name Mayflower was in tradition given to E. repens by the Pilgrim Fathers after their ship the Mayflower; the plant was abundant where the ship landed at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. For this reason, it was chosen to be the state flower of Massachusetts. 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.

Cultivation and usesEdit

All three species are grown as ornamental plants in rockeries, where they require moist, acidic soil. A hybrid between E. repens and E. asiatica, Epigaea × intertexta has also been developed for garden planting.