Pipsissewa: A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information on pipsissewa

Chimaphila umbellate is a member of the Ericaceae family. The plant, known commonly as pipsissewa grows to around 10–35 cm tall, and has evergreen shiny, bright green, toothed leaves arranged in opposite pairs or whorls of 3-4 along the stem. Leaves have a shallowly toothed margin, where the teeth have fine hairs at their ends. The flowers are white or pink, produced together in a small umbel of 4-8.

common names & nomenclature
Pipsissewa received its name from a Cree term that means "breaks-into-small-pieces."

Also known as:
dragon's tongue, prince’s pine, spotted wintergreen, rheumatism weed, umbellate wintergreen

Pipsissewa, the winter loving woodland herb
Pipsissewa: Where in the World
habitat and range for pipsissewa

Chimaphila umbellata is native throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere.

Pipsissewa: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting pipsissewa

Grows in dry woodlands or moist areas in coniferous woods or along mountain streams

Requires a light moist but well-drained lime-free soil.

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. It is best to use some soil collected from around an established plant when sowing seed or planting out into a new position. The plant has wide-spreading fibrous feeding roots and will often die or fail to increase in size if these are disturbed.

The pipsissewa plant is harvested when flowering, and the leaves alone can be harvested during the growing season. They are dried for later use.

Store dried pipsissewa leaves in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Pipsissewa: The Rest of the Story
pipsissewa history, folklore, literature & more

urinary relief with pipsissewa
Pipsissewa may have a funny name, but the herb can provide great relief when you’re in need. It’s been used by Native Americans for thousands of years to provide relief and support for the urinary system and has additional uses as well.

In fact, Native Americans used pipsissewa for a variety of ailments from fevers to typhus. As colonists moved to North America, they began to use the herb as well for urinary infections. And now modern herbalists understand that its best use is for that health condition. It’s an herb that has astringent and diuretic properties. It helps to fight infections and it can also help to draw excess water off of the body.

If you suffer from cystitis or chronic urinary tract infections, you may want to begin a regimen of pipsissewa tea. It can help to remove excess water from the body and allow your urinary system to work the way that it should. It can also help to fight infection and inflammation.

When you’re dealing with kidney stones, pipsissewa can also be beneficial. It can help to give your relief from the pain and help you to pass the stone more quickly. In addition, some people also use pipsissewa to actually help treat problems such as gonorrhea. However, you’ll want to treat that disease with antibiotics as well.

If you have problems with arthritis or rheumatism, pipsissewa can actually help to remove fluid and toxins from your joints and provide relief. You’ll feel less inflammation and swelling. You can get this benefit from the tea, but you can also apply fresh leaves as a poultice directly to your joints. This will also help to relieve pain.

The pipsissewa plant has been providing relief to people who suffer from urinary tract problems and joint pain for many years. If you have these problems, you’ll want to keep a supply of this herb in your pantry. It can help you to have better urinary tract health, treat infections, and actually prevent them.

If you want to take pipsissewa internally, you’ll need to do it as a decoction or tea. Steep the leaves in hot water for 10 minutes to get the most benefit. You can add honey or stevia to the tea to sweeten it and make it more palatable. And if you’re looking for relief from rheumatism, fresh leaves can also be applied directly to the skin to help with joint pain.