Pipsissewa is a small evergreen plant that commonly grows in dry, shady, wooded areas throughout the US and Canada. The plant comes from the genus Chimaphila, which means "winter loving." Within this genus are two known varieties, the striped wintergreen (C. umbellate) and spotted wintergreen (C. maculate). Other common names include king's-cure, love-in-winter, ratsbane, dragon's-tongue, ground ivy, prince's pine, and rheumatism root.
Both species' names derive from the Cree Indian word pipsisikweu, which translates to "breaking into small pieces." Used by Native Americans by steeping leaves and roots for infusions to drink or apply topically, its use treated pain, urinary infections, fever, rheumatism and other maladies. It is still used as a naturopathic medicine and was referenced as an ingredient for root beer but I could not find any articles or recipes to verify its use in this way.
It is small plant, typically less than 10 inches with white, 5 petaled, fragrant flowers in clusters atop a stem in early summer. Dark blue green leaves are lance shaped with serrations along the edges with white striping along the veins, 1 ½ to 3 inches long.
If you're interested in learning more about this garden gem, check out the links below:
Union County Extension Master Gardener