Chimaphila maculata

Chimaphila maculata

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As we reach fall foliage peak here in the Delaware Valley, it is a great time to take a walk in our native woodland the Crum Woods. While exploring the trails, you may discover the native gem Chimaphila maculata, spotted wintergreen, tucked under the colorful fallen leaves.

This small evergreen perennial is conspicuous during this time of year with its white and green mottled leaves against the yellows, reds, and browns of fall. This delicate groundcover is often found in dry oak-heath forests.

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Here you can see the brown capsules that persist until the next flowering season. photo credit: R. Robert

Nodding, fragrant white to pink flowers bloom in small clusters during the summer months. They ripen into brown capsules that persist until the next flowering season. In addition to seed propagation, this slow-grower reproduces with underground runners.

As you hike, explore the forest floor native gems like Chimaphila maculata. Consider adding this delightful  groundcover to your shade garden.

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This article is part of an ongoing column called the Crum Woods Chronicle. The Crum Woods Chronicle will be periodic updates and observations about subjects related to natural history, interesting species found in and around the Crum Woods, and exciting events you can get involved in. My hope is that some of these topics will interest you, strengthen your connection to the Crum Woods, and inspire you to explore your backyard a little more often.

Natural areas do not maintain their character and quality independently, especially when they are heavily used by people and embedded in urban environments. Educating yourself about aspects of the Crum Woods that interest you and understanding how your individual use of the Crum Woods impacts it (and how you can reduce that impact!) are important steps every one of us should take.

“In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught.” –Baba Dioum

Becky Robert
rrobert1@swarthmore.edu
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