Chimaphila umbellata (Umbellate Wintergreen, Pipsissewa, or Prince's pine) is a small perennial flowering plant found in dry woodlands, or sandy soils. It is native throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere.
It grows 10-35 cm tall, and has evergreen shiny, bright green, toothed leaves arranged in opposite pairs or whorls of 3-4 along the stem. Leaves have a shallowly toothed margin, where the teeth have fine hairs at their ends. The flowers are white or pink, produced in a small umbel of 4-8 together.
Although it has green leaves year-round, it receives a significant portion of its nutrition from fungi in the soil (that is, it is a partial myco-heterotroph
, which is not surprising as related plants, such as Pyrola
, are partial or full myco-heterotrophs).
There are four subspecies:
- Chimaphila umbellata subsp. umbellata – Europe, Asia
- Chimaphila umbellata subsp. acuta – southwestern North America
- Chimaphila umbellata subsp. cisatlantica – northeastern North America
- Chimaphila umbellata subsp. occidentalis – northwestern North America
It is used as a flavoring in candy and soft drinks, particularly root beer
"Pipsissewa" is a Cree name meaning "It-breaks-into-small-pieces". The name is also used for a character in the "Uncle Wiggly" books of Howard R. Garis.