Spotted Wintergreen – Plant of the Week

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This is spotted wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata), also called striped prince’s pine, and spotted pipsissewa.  It’s a very small plant, usually only 6 inches tall when flowering.  It is an exciting little plant because its leaves are evergreen so it can be easily found through the winter.  Like many of our forest plants it enjoys acidic soil and requires little light.

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Most available information citing the medicinal uses of this plant are actually pertaining to pipisseswa (Chimaphila umbellata).  As they share a genus there are of course similarities, however they are completely different species.  It is probable that spotted pipsissewa has similar medicinal qualities to “unspotted” pipsissewa however I did not find well enough cited sources to definitively confirm that.  In general, plants of the Chimaphila genus have been used to treat kidney stones, gall stones, and urinary disorders. 

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Green seed pods forming under the flower.

It is difficult to grow spotted wintergreen in the garden because like many forest floor flowers its vitality is closely tied to fungus and microbial growth in the soil.  Luckily, its easily spotted leaves can be found all year long and the flowers are not difficult to come upon in late spring and summer.

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Can you spot the spotted wintergreen?

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