CAROLYN’S DAILY POSTS: 2011
PIPSISSEWA a.k.a. WINTERGREEN
Do you know anything about the herb pipsissewa? my friend Linda from Georgia asked me.
Never heard of it, I responded. But I’m sitting at my computer (Linda uses a library computer). I’ll look it up for you.
I learned that a character in the old classic board game Uncle Wiggily, was called the Pipsisewah.
Don’t know the game, Linda said.
Neither do I, I replied.
In the game Uncle Wiggily used a cane because he had rheumatism. It was appropriate, then, to have a character named Pipsisewah, the name of an herb traditional prized to help alleviate rheumatism.
PIPSISSEWA any of several ericaceous plants of the Asian and American genus Chimaphila, having jagged evergreen leaves and white or pinkish flowers. From Cree pipisisikweu, literally: it breaks it into pieces, so called because it was believed to be efficacious in treating bladder stones. A. k. a. wintergreen** A.k.a. Love-in-Winter, Rheumatism Weed, Princ’s Pine, Umbellate Wintergreen, Bitter Wintergreen, Ground Ivy, Dragon’s Tongue, Striped Prince’s Pine, Striped Wintergreen, or Spotted Wintergreen.*
Ah,, wintergreen. Now we approached somewhat familiar grounds.
Wintergreen was once the common reference to plants that remain green all winter. The more common term today is evergreen.
Wintergreen berries have medicinal uses. Native Americans brewed a tea from the leaves to alleviate rheumatic symptoms, headache, fever, sore throat and various aches and pains. During the American Revolution, wintergreen leaves were used as a substitute for tea, which was scarce.
Wintergreen is a common flavoring in American products ranging from chewing gum, mints and candies to smokeless tobacco such as dipping tobacco (American “dip” snuff) and snus. It is also a common flavoring for dental hygiene products such as mouthwash and toothpaste.***
Thus, Linda and I learned our something new for the day. Now we can relax while pondering where we will find wintergreen for next winter’s use.