Spotted Wintergreen
Spotted Wintergreen - Striped Prince's Pine - Pipsissewa
Chimaphila maculata
Pyrolaceae (Wintergreen) Family

Spotted Wintergreen is a common species in Alabama and is usually associated with higher elevations, however, it is found occasionally among the leaf litter of broadleaf trees in the Murder and Burnt Corn creeks bottomland.

The plant is a small evergreen herb or sub-shrub to no more than six inches tall. The upright branches arise from a horizontal stem or rhizome, often forming small colonies in shaded forests. Its preferred habitat is the ground layer of upland pine and hardwood forests, being more frequent in pine plantations. Distribution is occasional in the Escambia region.

Fruit is a spherical capsule that matures in autumn.

The leaves are opposite or whorled, evergreen and thick; lance-like with rounded bases; 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. The margins are sharply toothed. The color is dark green with whitish streaks along the veins. Look for pale green coloring beneath.

Flowers occur in the spring as small terminal clusters of 1 to 5 heads. The clusters extend above the top leaf whorl. The color is pink or white, fragrant and nodding. Petals number 5 and sepals number 5.

The Cree Indians called these plants Pipsisikweu, meaning "it-breaks-into-pieces," because they believed the plants were effective in breaking down kidney stones and gallstones. The tonic was still a popular home remedy in the early part of the century, but today the leaf extract is used merely to flavor candy and soft drinks. In Colonial times, the leathery leaves were also used to make a poultice to treat bruises and skin irritations.

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