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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Spotted Wintergreen

I have a nifty little plant to show you today. I saw quite a lot of it on Sunday when I hiked a few extra NCT miles on the way home.

This is not the same kind of wintergreen that has the little red berries and the wintergreen flavor. It's not even in the same genus or family. In fact, it used to be in a different family, but taxonomy is in a mess with DNA testing.

So, it used to be a Pyrolaceae, but now that family is just plain gone, and it's in Ericaceae (heaths- in the US, think blueberries). Anyway...

This is spotted wintergreen, sometimes called striped wintergreen. The stripe is obvious.

spotted wintergreen

The leaves are thick and a bit waxy. I always get fooled and think it's an orchid. Maybe I'll remember from now on.

These had already gone to seed. Each stalk here had just one bloom, but they can have two.

spotted wintergreen

The Latin name is fun, Chimaphila maculata It's really not bad to remember. First of all maculata is "spotted." It's the opposite of immaculate, an English word which mirrors the Latin, and means not spotted. You might recognize phila as "lover" at the end of the genus name. But what does this plant love? Winter. Sort of... the point is that the leaves stay green all year. Chima is from cheima which means "winter." No easy memory aid there.

Here is a seed pod.

spotted wintergreen

I have a companion plant for tomorrow. Stay tuned.

P.S. I just noticed that my counter went over 250,000 hits on this blog. That's a quarter of a million! Thanks, everyone.

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rainfield61 said...

The last one reminds me about the mushrooms I used to see over here.

Ann said...

I like the looks of those seed pods

Reena said...

Congrats on the counts! Like that last pic.

Sharkbytes said...

rainfield- I think it looks more like a little turbaned head!

Ann- what would you make from them?

reena- I'm fairly amazed!

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