Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pipsissewa or Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata)

Chimaphila maculata is known by the common names Pipsissewa, Striped Wintergreen or Spotted Wintergreen. This is one of two Chimaphila species that grows in the southeastern United States. The other species, Chimaphila umbellata (Prince's-pine, Pipsissewa) does not grow in Georgia; it grows south only as far as northern South Carolina.

I first saw the striped leaves of Pipsissewa in the woods by Whitetail Lake in Charlie Elliot Wildlife Management Area in December, 2009. Jasper County would be close to the southern end of the range for Chimaphila maculata in this part of Georgia. The leaves are unique so it was relatively easy to identify. When I saw photographs of the exquisite flowers, I knew one of my quests (obsessions) this year would be to find and photograph it’s flowers.

I’ve seen a few plants at home in the woods. A Fort Yargo State Park, I spotted the plants along the trail north of the dam (segment 4) and along the trail both north (segment 12) and south (segment 13) of the Fishing Area. The plants that grew in the open along segments 4 and 13 set buds but didn’t bloom successfully. Plants that grew in the shade along segments 12 and 13 bloomed successfully.

The patterns on the leaves are unique. This makes them easy to spot in the woods.

The plants started to set buds in late April, early May.

My favorite plant grows under the shelter of this rock; under the ‘ledge’ at the lower right. This plant has it made. It is ‘protected’ from the elements by the boulder and by the Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) plant to its right. If you enlarge the photo, you can just see three tiny white spots directly above one of the poison ivy leaves.
These are buds.

A closer view of is plant. In addition to the Poison Ivy, a leaf of Wild Ginger (Hexastylis arifolia).

The buds have developed a little further by late May.

A small cluster of plants that have begun to bloom at the end of May.

A closer views of a blooming plant.

A close up of the top of the blooms.

A close up of blooms, in profile.

A close up of blooms, exposing more of the underside.

A close up of a bloom, front on.

A close up of a bloom, in profile. The petals of older blooms curl up.

The seed pods are developing in early July.

Close up of the developing seed pods in mid-July.

Mature seed pods from 2009; these were photographed in early May 2010.

An open seed pod which is composed of compartments.

Chimaphila maculata
(Striped Prince's Pine or Pipsissewa) is native to the eastern United States and Canada.

Click on an image to view a larger image

Distribution Map:

- United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database: Chimaphila maculata (Striped Prince's pine)

- University of North Carolina Herbarium: Chimaphila maculata

Identification resources:
- Southeastern Flora: Pipsissewa or Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata)

- Natural and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Chimaphila maculata

Related posts:
- 2010: Year Of The Wildflower – Wildflower Index

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