Herbs & Plants

Chimaphila umbellata

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Botanical Name :Chimaphila umbellata
Family: Ericaceae
Genus: Chimaphila
Species: C. umbellata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales

Common Names:Umbellate Wintergreen, Pipsissewa, or Prince’s pine,Ground Holly

Habitat :Chimaphila umbellata is native to  N. Europe, N. America, E. Asia. It grows in dry coniferous woods in Europe. Moist woods, particularly coniferous stands, and along mountain streams from the lower hills to about 2,500 metres in Western N. America

Chimaphila umbellata  is a small perennial  evergreen flowering plant found in dry woodlands, or sandy soils. 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.It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Jul to August. 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.

The leaves are gathered in summer.
Requires a light moist but well-drained lime-free soil and shade from direct sunligh. This species is difficult to propagate and grow in cultivation, mainly because it has certain mycorrhizal associations in the wild and these are necessary if the plant is to thrive. It is best to use some soil collected from around an established plant when sowing seed or planting out into a new position. The plant has wide-spreading fibrous feeding roots and will often die or fail to increase in size if these are disturbed. The flowers have a sweet but refreshing perfume.
Propagation :
Seed – this is very difficult to germinate, see the notes above in cultivation details. It is best sown in a shady area of the greenhouse on moist sphagnum peat as soon as it is ripe. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a shady position in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division. Rather difficult because the plant is very sensitive to root disturbance. It is best attempted in the spring as the plant comes into growth. Cuttings of softwood, June in a frame. Use some soil from around an established plant.

Edible Uses:
The leaves are nibbled, brewed into a tea or used as a flavouring in root beer. They have a delicious scent and flavour. An extract of the leaves is used to flavour candy and soft drinks. In Mexico the herb is used in the preparation of ‘navaitai’, an alcoholic beverage produced from sprouted maize. A tea can be made from an infusion of the stems and roots.

Medicinal Uses;
Pipsissewa was an important herb among Native Americans, who used it for various problems, including rheumatism.  It induced sweating.  The Pennsylvania Dutch used it as a tonic and diuretic for kidney complaints and rheumatism.  Internally used for urinary infections, prostates, urethritis, kidney stones, arthritis and rheumatism.  It is mainly used in an infusion for urinary tract problems such as cystitis and urethritis.  It has also been prescribed for more serious conditions such as gonorrhea and kidney stones.  By increasing urine flow, it stimulates the removal of waste products from the body and is therefore of benefit in treating rheumatism and gout.  It is also a lymphatic catalyst.  The fresh leaves may be applied externally to rheumatic joints or muscles, as well as to blisters, sores and swellings.  In tests on animals, pipsissewa leaves appear to lower blood sugar levels.  Solvent in diluted alcohol, boiling water.
Known Hazards: Weak skin sensitizing effects. May cause diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. Not suitable for long term use. Reduces mineral absorption from gut.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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