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(Medical disclaimer: always check with a physician before consuming wild plants, and make positive identification in the field using a good source such as Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West.) 
#73
Common Name: Wintergreen, Eastern Teaberry, Checkerberry
Latin Name: Gaultheria procumbens
Family Name: Ericaceae
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=GAPR2 all states east of the Mississippi R., except Florida and Mississippi, plus Minnesota, Newfoundland, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba (Gaultheria procumbens)
Photos: (Click on latin name after range)
Appearance and Habitat: A low, woody ground cover, wintergreen is grown for its evergreen  foliage, flowers, and berries. Two to six inch branches arise from creeping, underground stems and bear 1-2 in. long, oval, shiny, dark green leaves which turn reddish with the advent of cold weather. Small, bell-shaped, white to pink flowers hang on short stems from the leaf axils. The creeping stem  of this low, evergreen shrub  has upright branches with white, bell-shaped, nodding flowers, solitary or in groups of 2 or 3 in the leaf axils Aromatic red berries follow the flowers. This leathery, semi-woody, aromatic perennial   has creeping underground stems, thus forming small colonies of plants. Showy red fruits may persist through the winter.  The flowers are white to pink and appear June through August.  It is quite tolerant of shade but  flowers best is sunny openings with light shade during midday. (1) An evergreen Shrub growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a medium rate. It is hardy to zone 4. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen from Oct to December.  They are especially found beneath evergreen trees. (2)
Warnings: The pure distilled essential oil is toxic in large doses. (3)
Edible Uses: Fruit – raw or cooked. Pleasant but insipid. The fruit is not at all insipid, it has a very strong spicy taste of germolene, just like being in a hospital waiting room. Best after a frost, the fruit hangs onto the plant until spring if it is not eaten by birds. The fruits can also be used in pies, or made into jams]. The fruit is up to 15mm in diameter. Young leaves – raw. A pleasant wayside nibble if used when very young. Dry and powdery according to our taste buds. A very agreeable tea is made from the fresh leaves. A stronger tea can be made by first fermenting the bright red leaves. ‘Oil of wintergreen’ can be distilled from this plant. It is used to flavour beer, sweets, chewing gum. (4) 
Medicinal Uses: Checkerberry leaves were widely used by the native North American Indians in the treatment of aches and pains and to help breathing whilst hunting or carrying heavy loads. An essential oil (known as ‘oil of wintergreen’) obtained from the leaves contains methyl salicylate, which is closely related to aspirin and is an effective anti-inflammatory. This species was at one time a major source of methyl salicylate, though this is now mainly synthesized. The leaves, and the oil, are analgesic, anti-inflammatory, aromatic, astringent, carminative, diuretic, emmenagogue, stimulant and tonic. An infusion of the leaves is used to relieve flatulence and colic. The plant, especially in the form of the essential oil, is most useful when applied externally in the treatment of acute cases of rheumatism, sciatica, myalgia, sprains, neuralgia and catarrh. The oil is sometimes used in the treatment of cellulitis, a bacterial infection that causes the skin to become inflamed. Some caution is advised, especially if the oil is used internally, since essential oil is toxic in excess, causing liver and kidney damage. It should not be prescribed for patients who are hypersensitive to salicylates (aspirin). The leaves can be gathered at any time from spring to early autumn, they are dried for use in infusions or distilled to produce the oil (5)
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#74
Common Name: Pipsissewa, Striped Prince’s Pine, Little Prince’s Pine, Spotted Wintergreen 
Latin Name: Chimaphila maculata, C. menziesii, C. umbellata
Family: Pyrolaceae
Native American Name: Ka-ka-sim (or)  O-makse-ka-ka-sin (Blackfoot) (1)
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CHMA3 all states east of the Mississippi, except Wisconsin, plus Arizona – Quebec and Ontario. ( Chimaphila maculata)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=chum all states west of the Rocky Mountains, Alaska, all lower Canadian Provinces, all states north of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, North Carolina, plus Georgia and South Dakota. (Chimapila umbellata )
http://www.plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CHME British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, California, Nevada, Utah. ( Chimaphila menziesii)
Photos: (Click on latin name after range)
Appearance and Habitat: Pipsissewa are small, four to ten inch evergreen plants with shiny leatherlike leaves in loose whorls along the stems.  The stems rise from a creeping root stalk. The flowers grow in nodding clusters and range in color from  pink, and white.  They have 5 petals  that are rounded and concave.  C. umbellata is the most common species found throughout the Northern Hemisphere.  It’s  leaves are dark green, lanceolate, shallow-toothed and wider at the tips of the leaves and narrowing gradually until they join with the stem.  C. umbellata is found above 6,500 feet . (Note: it does occur in the Midwest and East below that elevation) C. maculata  has an identical appearance, but with stripes along the leaves in the center.  C. menziesii is only found in the Pacific states from San Diego County northwards.  It can be found at elevations above 4,500 feet in the San Bernardino Mountains and Sierra Nevada range.  Its flowers are partially closed.  The shape of the leaves is more oval than lanceolate and the serrations are shallow to almost lacking.  All three species are seldom found near roads or habitations, but found by hikers in the pine forest. (2) An evergreen Shrub growing to 0.4 m (1ft 4in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a slow rate.  It is hardy to zone 4.   It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Jul to August.  Found in moist woods, particularly coniferous stands, and along mountain streams from the lower hills to about 2,500 meters in Western North America. Spotted Wintergreen (C. maculata) is found in rich woods, dry woods, in Eastern N. America – Illinois to Michigan and Ontario, south to Texas and Georgia. (3)
Warnings: None (4)
Edible Uses: The leaves are nibbled, brewed into a tea or used as a flavouring in root beer. They have a delicious scent and flavour. An extract of the leaves is used to flavour candy and soft drinks. In Mexico the herb is used in the preparation of ‘navaitai’, an alcoholic beverage produced from sprouted maize. A tea can be made from an infusion of the stems and roots. (5) Pipsissewa has been a traditional ingredient of root beer and is still included in several brands. (6)
Medicinal Uses: Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata) The plant is analgesic, antibacterial, astringent, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, rubefacient, stimulant and tonic. The plant has an antiseptic influence on the urinary system and is sometimes used in the treatment of cystitis. An infusion of the plant has been drunk in the treatment of rheumatism and colds. A poultice of the root has been used to treat pain whilst the plant has also been used as a wash on ulcers, scrofula and cancers. All parts of the plant can be used, though only the leaves are officinal. The plant is loaded with the biologically active compounds arbutin, sitosterol and ursolic acid. Arbutin hydrolyzes to the toxic urinary antiseptic hydroquinone. Pipsissewa was much used by many tribes of native North American Indians to induce sweating and treat fevers, including typhus. 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. The whole plant is alterative, antibacterial, astringent, diaphoretic, diuretic, rubefacient, stimulant and tonic. 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. A decoction is very efficacious in the treatment of skin diseases. Used externally, the fresh leaves are rubefacient and internally they are of great use in cardiac and kidney diseases, chronic rheumatism and scrofula. Only the leaves are officinal, though the whole plant is often used. The plant is loaded with the biologically active compounds arbutin, sitosterol and ursolic acid. Arbutin hydrolyzes to the toxic urinary antiseptic hydroquinone. The plant contains glycosides and an essential oil that are used as an astringent and tonic. 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. A homeopathic remedy is made from the leaves. It is used in the treatment of inflammations of the urinary system. (7)  Collect the above ground stems, leaving the roots to propagate.  To dry the herb, place it in hanging cheesecloth in the shade.  Take a section of cheese cloth hang it, and double it over making a pocket, then use a tack to hang the pocket.    Pipsissewa contains ursolic acid, the glycosides arbutin, ericolin, and its own specific chimophilin, all of which are excreted in the urine as disinfectant substances.  Pipsissewa is an almost perfect remedy for kidney weakness or chronic mild nephritis, and can be taken several times a week for extended periods.  The average dose is a rounded teaspoon of the chopped leaves, boiled for 20 minutes or more.  (8)
Foot Notes: (1) Indian Uses of Native Plants by Edith Murphey, page 61, Publisher: Meyerbooks Copy right 1990; ISBN 0-916638-15-4
Foot Notes: (2, 6, 8) Medicinal Plants Of the Mountain West  by Michael Moore, 1st Edition, page 127, publisher:  Museum of New Mexico Press ; copy right 1979  ISBN 0-89013-104-X
Foot Notes: (3, 4, 5, 7)
Reproduced, in part, (as well as previous postings under this title) in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and is for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.



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