Species At Risk

Spotted Wintergreen

(Chimaphila maculata)


Spotted Wintergreen
Spotted Wintergreen occurrences map


Spotted Wintergreen is a low-growing, evergreen herb that reaches about ten to 25 centimetres in height. It has a whorl of smooth, dark green toothed leaves that have prominent white stripes along the midvein on their upper surfaces. An umbel (a flat-topped or rounded flower cluster in which the individual flower stalks arise from a common point) of one to five nodding flowers occurs on a single stalk arising from the leaf whorl. Petals are five in number, reflexed and white or pink. The fruit is a roundish capsule.


Spotted Wintergreen ranges from New England and Michigan south to Georgia. It also occurs in Mexico and Central America. In Canada, it is only found in a few locations in southern Ontario in Norfolk County and the Niagara Region. It is believed to have been been extirpated from Simcoe Kent, Middlesex and York Counties, Hamilton-Wentworth Region and the District of Muskoka. There is a record for Spotted Wintergreen in Quebec but it is believed to have been introduced and now no longer persists


In Ontario, Spotted Wintergreen occurs in dry oak-pine woodland habitats with sandy soils. Typically, dominant tree species include White Pine, Red Oak, Black Oak, and American Beech. The species does best in semi-open habitats.


The primary threat to Spotted Wintergreen is habitat loss and degradation from recreational uses and forestry operations. Lack of suitable habitat is a key threat since dry, sandy mixed woodlands are very uncommon in southern Ontario. Pedestrian and ATV traffic also pose a threat and may be responsible for the loss of at least one occurrence.


Spotted Wintergreen and its habitat are protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act and the federal Species at Risk Act.

What You Can Do to Help the Spotted Wintergreen

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as the Spotted Wintergreen. You can use a handy online form to report your sightings to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful. nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • Private land owners have a very important role to play in species recovery. If you find Spotted Wintergreen on your property, you may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.
  • Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.
  • Pollinators, such as bees, are in steep decline across the globe and they play a key role in the survival of many of Ontario’s rare plants. For information on how you can help scientists monitor pollinator populations in Ontario visit: www.seeds.ca/proj/poll.
  • The Carolinian forests of southern Ontario support an amazing diversity of plants and wildlife, including many species at risk. Carolinian Canada is working to help recover species at risk and their habitats. For more information, visit: www.carolinian.org/SpeciesHabitats.htm.

Did you know?

Typically, Spotted Wintergreen is found close to waterbodies. In fact, all sites in Ontario are found close to water.

Did you know?

Spotted Wintergreen flowers in mid-July for about three weeks. It is believed that Spotted Wintergreen is pollinated primarily by bumblebees.

Did you know?

The seeds of Spotted Wintergreen are believed to be dispersed by wind.

Did you know?

Aboriginal peoples used Spotted Wintergreen for a variety of medicinal purposes including as a poultice, for rheumatism, and for the treatment of colds and fevers.

The Endangered Species Act

Contact your local ministry office

Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.