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Plant ID

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As Alexis and I were walking the dogs through the Lost Pond Reservation last week, she stopped and said, hey, what are these flowers? I looked and said that they're kind of wintergreen. Then somewhere in the back of my brain the word "pipsissewa" spoke up. That turns out to be true, but since I didn't have conscious access to the process, I'm not sure I can use it to my future advantage with plant identification.

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Pipsissewa is the name given by the Cree, indigenous people of what is now Canada. The plant, Chimaphila umbellata*, has a number of uses including treating urinary disorders and fever and to flavor root beer. Despite having chlorophyll in its leaves to photosynthesize, this plant derives some of its nutrients by parasitizing mycorrhizae, in the same way as strictly parasitic plants like monotrope.

* "Umbellate** winter-lover"

** Umbellate refers to a type of flower growth, ie: in umbels. Umbels are a type of flower wherein a number of flower stalks radiate from a common origin. The most familiar umbellate wildflower is Queen Anne's Lace Dauca carota***.

*** "carrot carrot"

Comments

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(Deleted comment)
asakiyume
Jul. 6th, 2015 07:49 pm (UTC)
We saw some pipsissewa on our walk too, the other day. I love that word. And thank you for the name origin! I thought it sounded like a Native American word.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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