Paul Smiths VIC -- Adirondack Wildflowers | Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata) | 1 July 2011

Adirondack Wildflowers:
Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)

Adirondack Wildflowers: Pipsissewa in bud in early July at the Paul Smiths VIC. Adirondack Wildflowers: Pipsissewa in bud in early July at the Paul Smiths VIC.
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Pipsissewa is a native Adirondack wildflower which produces a cluster of fragrant pink flowers in mid-to late July. Each flower is 1/2 inch wide, with five thick waxy petals. The flowers, which are pollinated by insects, later become brown, rounded capsules. Pipsissewa is an evergreen plant with glossy, dark green, lance-shaped, toothed leaves. It grows up to 10 inches tall. Pipsissewa is also known as Prince's Pine. It is a member of the Wintergreen family (family Pyrolaceae).

Pipsissewa can be found in well-drained woods, usually in light shade, in the Adirondack Mountains. It grows in Ontario and Quebec, south to the northern US.

The leaves of the Pipsissewa plant reportedly can be made into a tea or used as flavoring in root beer. The leaves have also been used to flavor candy. In addition, pipsissewa had an important medicinal role among North American Indians and settlers. It apparently was used by many tribes to treat a wide variety of aliments, including fevers, kidney stones, skin diseases, stomach ailments, and chronic rheumatism. The plant was reportedly also used by some tribes for backache.

Paul Smiths VIC -- Adirondack Wildflowers | Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata) in bud | 1 July 2011Toothed, evergreen leaves of the Pipsissewa.

Pipsissewa may be found on the Boreal Life Trail and the Heron Marsh Trail at the Paul Smiths VIC. It usually begins blooming in early July at the VIC.


Explore the VIC

The Paul Smiths VIC offers a wide variety of programs throughout the year to educate and inform Adirondack Park residents and visitors about the natural wonders of the Adirondack Mountains. You can help support these programs by joining the Friends of the VIC. More information on Friends of the VIC memberships

Explore the Trails

The VIC trails are free and open to the public, from dawn to dusk, spring through fall. In winter, the trails are open to cross-country skiers and snowshoers for a fee. Day or season passes may be purchased.