Shinleaf is a native Adirondack wildflower which blooms from early summer through midsummer. The fragrant, nodding flowers bloom on unbranched stalks up to about 10 inches high. Each stalk bears from three to 21 greenish-white, waxy flowers. Each flower is about 1/2 inch wide. The evergreen leaves are elliptical, one to three inches long, and cluster in a rosette at ground level. The plant is also referred to as Waxflower Shinleaf.
Shinleaf may be found in sandy or loamy woods and on shaded stream banks, especially under hardwoods, throughout the Adirondack Mountains and the north woods region. Shinleaf grows in woods across Canada and the northern parts of the United States, south in the mountains to West Virginia.
The common name -- Shinleaf -- is a reference to the medicinal properties of the plant. It contains a drug closely related to aspirin; the leaves reportedly have analgesic properties and were used as a poultice on bruised shins and other sores and wounds. Such a leaf plaster was referred to as a shin plaster. Tea made from the plant is said to have been used by some native American tribes as a treatment for epileptic fits, rheumatism, indigestion, and sore throats.
Shinleaf may be found on many of the trails at the Paul Smiths VIC. It usually begins blooming in late June or early July at the VIC.
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Native Plant Database.
- United States Department of Agriculture. Plants Database.
- Plants for a Future. Database.
- Flora of North America. Plant Database.
of Michigan. Native American Ethnobotany. A
Database of Foods, Drugs, Dyes and Fibers of Native American
Peoples, Derived from Plants.
- Doug Ladd. North Woods Wildflowers (Falcon Publishing, 2001), p. 211.
- Lawrence Newcomb. Newcomb's Wildflower Guide (Little Brown and Company, 1977), pp. 178-179.
- Roger Tory Peterson and Margaret McKenny. A Field Guide to Wildflowers. Northeastern and North-central North America (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1968) pp. 26-27.
- National Audubon Society. Field Guide to Wildflowers. Eastern Region. (Alfred A. Knopf, 2001), pp. 718-719.