Spotted Wintergreen

This diminutive wildflower grows in sandy poor soils. It also goes by Pipsissewa, from a Native American name (which of the many languages of Native Americans, I do not know). The leaves taste vaguely medicinal and were once used in root beer.

The flower stands about five inches tall. This one was growing below the cliff at Morgan’s Steep. I angled the camera up to give a bumblebee’s view of the ornate architecture of the flower — these insects are the main pollinators.

Junebug bombed the photoshoot. Stasis and motion:

The plants are growing in deep woodland shade and the white stands out from the gloomy surroundings like a tiny bumblebeacon.

11 thoughts on “Spotted Wintergreen

  1. Bill

    I learned this in dendrology (go figure) 40 years ago, as mottled pipsissewa (my roommate and I always said it with a British accent!). I also for some crazy reason can remember the scientific name-Chimaphelia maculata Pyrolaceae (lousy spelling I’m sure)

    1. David George Haskell Post author

      The Duke site has great photos. Thanks for sharing.

      Bumblebeacon must surely be a neologism, one that will likely make little headway into our language, but useful in the right context :)

  2. Ellen Kuppinger

    A friend of ours named her daughter Pipsissewa and she goes by Pippy. This plant is always such a lovely surprise while hiking in the spring. Thanks for your post.

  3. WellCity George

    Beautiful pics of the Spotted Wintergreen! Funny, there was a man named David with a few of them at the WellCity Botanical Show last Spring!


  4. Pingback: Sourwood in bloom | Ramble

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