Chimaphila umbellata (Pipsissewa)

Plant Info
Also known as: Prince's-pine
Genus:Chimaphila
Family:Ericaceae (Heath)
Life cycle:perennial woody
Origin:native
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):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] 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: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf attachment: whorl Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] 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.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] 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.

Notes:

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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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Hubbard and Washington counties.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Bonny - Chippewa National Forest - near Cutfoot Sioux
on: 2011-07-16 11:19:30

Yes, saw this lovely flower in the Chippewa while picking blueberries. Have been looking for it for about 3 years and couldn't believe my luck when I found it. Lovely!!!!!!

Posted by: Ken - Twin Lakes SNA, southern Isanti county
on: 2013-07-01 17:45:11

While co-leading a field trip for the MN Native Plant Society on 6-30-13, I came across only two stems, neither in flower.

Posted by: Pat W - Pillager-Cass Cty
on: 2014-01-25 10:54:47

THis is growing on my property along the Crow Wing River. Only a few plants scattered around but very nice to find.

Posted by: Vicki - Birch lake near Ely
on: 2014-07-26 11:50:35

First time I've seen this plant in all my years of blueberry picking. It was under the ferns in a cut over area in sandy soil.

Posted by: Brett - Otsego
on: 2016-02-16 19:17:36

Have seen a few of these plants in the Sand Dunes State Forest area, but never in flower or any stalks with seed pods. I'm wondering if they are more prolific up north near water or the sandy soil has something to do with that.

Posted by: Brandon - Embarrass, St Louis Co
on: 2016-04-03 10:17:39

There is a small patch on the northwest end of a balm of gilead poplar grove growing with lichens, grasses, sedges, and asters. I keep the patch somewhat weeded of trees to benefit the plant. I have spread the seeds to other similar sites but have yet to see the results. Hot pink flowers really stand out. The soil is sandy loam and it is the old homestead site so is disturbed. This is also a play area for my neices and nephews so gets regular traffic.

Posted by: Elaine E - Cook County, George Washington Pines
on: 2017-07-05 07:42:36

There is a very small patch here now just getting ready to bloom.

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