Herb: Spotted Wintergreen

Latin name: Chimaphila maculata

Family: Pyrolaceae (Wintergreen Family)

Medicinal use of Spotted Wintergreen:

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.

Description of the plant:


25 cm
(9 3/4 inch)

June to


Habitat of the herb:

Rich woods. Dry woods.

Edible parts of Spotted Wintergreen:

The leaves are used as a snack, being nibbled for their refreshing qualities. In Mexico the herb is used as a catalyst in the preparation of "tesguino", an alcoholic beverage produced from sprouted maize.

Other uses of the herb:

The plants stoloniferous root system, and dwarf spreading habit make it a god ground cover, though it is a difficult plant to establish and grow well.

Propagation of Spotted Wintergreen:

Seed - very difficult to germinate, see the notes in cultivation details. It is best sown on moist sphagnum peat. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a shady position in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division. Rather difficult because the plant is very sensitive to root disturbance. It is best attempted in the spring as the plant comes into growth. Cuttings of softwood, June in a frame. Use some soil from around an established plant.

Cultivation of the herb:

Rich woods. Dry woods.

Known hazards of Chimaphila maculata:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.