There are two small evergreen plants within our county that share the inevitable confusion of having too many colloquial or vernacular names. The common spotted wintergreen with its waxy green leaves (variegated with white along the veins) is also known as ratbane or pipsissewa. The other rarer member of the same genus is the small evergreen plant known as Prince's pine or pipsissewa.
It is interesting that the generic name for these two species (Chimaphila) refers to its leaves remaining green throughout the winter months. Gray's Manual of Botany indicates that the Greek words for “winter” and the Greek word for “to love” are combined in Chimaphila to make direct reference to the name “wintergreen.”
Copyright © 2003 William T. Hathaway.