Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Striped Pipsissewa

Striped Pipsissewa (Chimaphila maculata), commonly known as striped or spotted wintergreen, is one of the less frequently encountered wildflowers in the Captina watershed region but is easy to spot this time of year as long as snow depths aren't too great.  Although both share the same common name, striped wintergreen is not the same as true wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) found further south in the Carolinas.  Striped wintergreen is an evergreen perennial that prefers shady well-drained acidic, upland soils.  The most likely habitat in the Captina region to find striped wintergreen is near stands of white pine or eastern hemlock that are mixed with oak and growing on upland rocky slopes.  In the spring the plant will develop white flowers atop a 4-6" stalk.

This bunch of spotted wintergreen was found growing under a
dense stand of oak and hemlock in Sunsbury TWP, Monroe
County - note the lack of ambient light as the camera's flash had to be
used.  The plants are 4-6" in height having thicker, waxy leaves with
serrated margins.  A stem from the previous season's flowering
is still present in part on the left-most stalk.  These plants
really stand out against a snow-covered background.

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