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Chimaphila umbellata (L.) W.P.C. Barton

Common pipsissewa, noble prince’s-pine

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderEricalesTea, persimmon, blueberry, Brazil nut, azalea, many others
FamilyPyrolaceaeIncludes at least Chimaphila, Moneses, Orthilia, and Pyrola, and sometimes several genera usually placed in the family Monotropaceae
GenusChimaphilaFrom the Greek cheima, “winter weather,” and phelein, “to love,” from its evergreen habit and referring to one of the common names, wintergreen aka pipsissiwa or prince’s pine
SpeciesumbellataRefers to the arrangement of the flowers which arise in a head from a central point, i.e. bearing an umbel

About plant names...

Pipsissewa is a low flowering evergreen plant native to the cooler parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Like many forest floor plants that have to make do with limited light, they complement energy from photosynthesis with that from another source, in this case from soil fungi. They are myco-heterotrophs—they parasitize the fungi. They are common in coniferous or mixed forests, with acid, thin, sandy soils.

Plants: 4-14" (10-35 cm) tall, with an umbel of flowering stalks above.

Leaves: Leaves are shiny, toothed, and wider toward the far ends. They are arranged in a whorl, or in opposite pairs, around the stem.

Flowers: White or pink, in groups of two to eight. The flowers hang downward, and are ½-¾" (1.3-1.9 cm) around. Each flower has five petals that are pink at first, turning white, but remaining pink at the base. It has ten stamens.

Fruits: Upright capsules ⅛-³/₁₆" (4-6 mm) around, with five sections. They are reddish brown, drying to a dark brown and remaining through the winter. They split open to release seeds.

Edibility: Leaves can be used as tea or a flavoring for root beer.

Medical: Pipsissewa has a number of unproven uses for kidney and bladder problems, cystitis and edema, and regulation of menstrual cycles. Although plants are not toxic unless used for a long period, neither do they have any confirmed medical uses.

Online References:

Chimaphila umbellata at Minnesota Wildflowers

Chimaphila umbellata on Wikipedia

Chimaphila umbellata on gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org

Chimaphila umbellata on Plants for a Future

References:

Multiple Authors, PDR for Herbal Medicines, Thomson Healthcare Inc., 2007, p. 654

Chimaphila umbellata (common pipsissewa, noble prince’s-pine)

8/23/2012 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 10 × 7" (25 × 17 cm)

Chimaphila umbellata (common pipsissewa, noble prince’s-pine)

7/2/2017 · Wildlife Pond, Beaver Brook Conservation Area, Hollis, New Hamp­shire
≈ 6 × 4" (14 × 10 cm)

 

Chimaphila umbellata description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 28 Dec 2020.

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Chimaphila umbellata (common pipsissewa, noble prince’s-pine)

7/3/2015 · Squannacook River Wildlife Area, Townsend, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 4½ × 4" (11 × 11 cm)

Chimaphila umbellata (common pipsissewa, noble prince’s-pine)

8/23/2012 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 6 × 5" (16 × 13 cm)

Chimaphila umbellata (common pipsissewa, noble prince’s-pine)

8/23/2012 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 5 × 4½" (13 × 12 cm)

Chimaphila umbellata (common pipsissewa, noble prince’s-pine)

7/3/2015 · Squannacook River Wildlife Area, Townsend, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 9 × 6" (23 × 16 cm)

Chimaphila umbellata (common pipsissewa, noble prince’s-pine)

7/2/2017 · Wildlife Pond, Beaver Brook Conservation Area, Hollis, New Hamp­shire
≈ 3½ × 4" (9.4 × 10 cm)

Range:

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