Chimaphila umbellata (Pipsissewa)
|Also known as:||Prince's-pine|
|Life cycle:||perennial woody|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; dry woods|
|Bloom season:||June - August|
|Plant height:||3 to 10 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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3 to 7 nodding flowers on slender stalks at the end of a stem that stands well above the upper leaves. Flowers are ½ to ¾ inch across, 5 white petals pink at the base, spreading like an umbrella around a plump green central pistil, along with a halo of 10 prominent orbiting anthers.
Leaves and stem:
The leaves are evergreen, opposite or whorled in groups of 3 to 8, oblong to lance shaped or elliptical with the lower leaves smaller and nearly oval, 1¼ to 2 inches long, 1/3 to ¾ inch wide, the upper surface very shiny with distinct sharp teeth along edges, on a short stalk. Stems are slender and woody, each year's growth putting out 3 to 4 new branches which root down over time to slowly form colonial mats.
Fruits are upright, dry, 5 sectioned capsules about ¼ inch in diameter, reddish brown with distinct button-like cap from the enlarged stigma. The capsule dries to a dark brown and persists through winter.
Common throughout northern US and southern Canadian coniferous forests, larger colonies of Pipsissewa make effective groundcovers. The leaves are quite durable, lasting up to four years before being left behind in the proliferation of new branches. There are 3 varieties of Chimaphila umbellata, with var. cisatlantica found in Minnesota. Like other species formerly in the Pyrolaceae (Pyrola) family, Chimaphila has been reassigned to Ericaceae (Heath).
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Hubbard and Washington counties.
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