This Native American name “Pipsissewa” comes from the word “pipsiskeweu,” which means “breaks into small pieces,” a reference to the plants use as a treatment for kidney stones.
This is a common plant in the forest, and is especially easy to spot in the winter among the brown leaf-litter.
Now here’s something pretty neat: once the nodding flowers are fertilized, they rotate 180 degrees, facing upward, and develop erect capsules that split open in the wind to disperse numerous tiny seeds.
Size: 10-35 cm tall Family: Ericaceae (Heath Family) Habitat: Dry, slightly acidic forests and woodlands. Identification: "A low-growing evergreen perennial with upright branches arising from creeping underground rhizomes. Thick lance-shaped leaves with broad whitish green stripes along the veins, mostly crowded near stem tip. Nodding white to pink waxy flowers in loose clusters well above the leaves. Fruit a flattened spherical capsule." From Wildflowers & Plant Communities Blooms May-June, fruits July-October Uses: Used as a flavoring for candy, soft drinks and root beer. The roots can be boiled to make a tea.