Pipsissewa is an evergreen, low-growing plant with shiny, leathery foliage and pink, fragrant 3-8 flowers in clusters late summer, followed by persistent capsules. Chimaphila umbellata is morphologically variable across its range (North America, C. America, Eurasia). Five or six subspecies have been recognized widely in the literature, depending where you look at; the one in Ontario would be C. umbellata subsp. cisatlantica – it never gets easy…
A lovely and hardy plant that would form a most desirable evergreen groundcover in shady areas of the garden or as a specimen in the shaded part of the rockery. Native Americans used it in traditional medicine for fevers and sweating and today it is employed in homeopathy for various urinary tract affections.
Only the difficult propagation made it virtually non-existent in cultivation. Pipsissewa is a partial myco-heterotrophic plant, which means that it obtains a portion of its nutrients from parasitizing fungi existent in the soil. It also forms a mycorrhizal symbiosis with fungi.
Germination: Seeds are very small, sand-like, resembling orchid seeds and require a mycorrhiza fungus for germination. As a seeding mix choose a ready to use propagation mix with mycorrhiza inoculums or incorporate a mycorrhizal product into a regular seeding mix. Another way would be to try sowing ‘in situ’.