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Chimaphila umbellata - (L.)W.P.C.Barton.

Common Name Pipsissewa
Family Pyrolaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards Weak skin sensitizing effects. May cause diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. Not suitable for long term use. Reduces mineral absorption from gut [301].
Habitats Dry coniferous woods in Europe[9]. Moist woods, particularly coniferous stands, and along mountain streams from the lower hills to about 2,500 metres in Western N. America[212].
Range N. Europe, N. America, E. Asia.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade
Chimaphila umbellata Pipsissewa


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chimaphila_umbellata_Sturm51.jpg
Chimaphila umbellata Pipsissewa
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Wsiegmund

 

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Chimaphila umbellata is an evergreen Shrub growing to 0.4 m (1ft 4in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 4. It is in leaf all year, in flower from July to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Pyrola umbellata. L. Chimaphila cymosa J.Presl & C.Presl

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade; Ground Cover;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves
Edible Uses: Condiment  Tea

The leaves are nibbled[177], brewed into a tea or used as a flavouring in root beer[183]. They have a delicious scent and flavour. An extract of the leaves is used to flavour candy and soft drinks[177, 183]. In Mexico the herb is used in the preparation of 'navaitai', an alcoholic beverage produced from sprouted maize[183]. A tea can be made from an infusion of the stems and roots[161, 177, 212].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Alterative  Antibacterial  Astringent  Disinfectant  Diuretic  Rubefacient  Stimulant  Tonic  
Urinary

Pipsissewa was much used by many tribes of native North American Indians to induce sweating and treat fevers, including typhus[254, 257]. The plant contains hydroquinones which have a pronounced disinfectant effect within the urinary tract and modern day herbalism mainly employs the plant to treat urinary problems such as cystitis and urethritis[254]. The whole plant is alterative, antibacterial, astringent, diaphoretic, diuretic, rubefacient, stimulant and tonic[4, 9, 14, 21, 46, 165, 213, 207, 222]. An infusion is used in the treatment of various problems related to the urinary system, it is also prescribed for more serious conditions such as kidney stones and gonorrhoea[254]. A decoction is very efficacious in the treatment of skin diseases[4]. Used externally, the fresh leaves are rubefacient and internally they are of great use in cardiac and kidney diseases, chronic rheumatism and scrofula[4, 238]. Only the leaves are officinal, though the whole plant is often used[4]. The plant is loaded with the biologically active compounds arbutin, sitosterol and ursolic acid[222]. Arbutin hydrolyzes to the toxic urinary antiseptic hydroquinone[222]. The plant contains glycosides and an essential oil that are used as an astringent and tonic[212]. The plant is harvested when in flower, and the leaves on their own can be harvested during the growing season. They are dried for later use[238]. A homeopathic remedy is made from the leaves[9]. It is used in the treatment of inflammations of the urinary system[9].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Disinfectant  Essential

The plant's stoloniferous root system, and dwarf spreading habit make it a god ground cover, though it is a difficult plant to establish and grow well[245]. The plant is used in perfumery because of its delicate scent[9].

Special Uses

Food Forest  Ground cover  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Requires a light moist but well-drained lime-free soil and shade from direct sunlight[1]. 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[200]. It is best to use some soil collected from around an established plant when sowing seed or planting out into a new position[200]. 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[245]. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 8 through 1. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. An evergreen. The plant growth habit is a runner spreading indefinitely by rhizomes or stolons [1-2]. The root pattern is rhizomatous with underground stems sending roots and shoots along their length [1-2].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant 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[200]. Cuttings of softwood, June in a frame. Use some soil from around an established plant[14].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Chimaphila maculataSpotted Wintergreen, Striped prince's pine, PipsissewaShrub0.3 6-7 SLMHSNM132

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.

 

Expert comment

Author

(L.)W.P.C.Barton.

Botanical References

50200

Links / References

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