Pyrola chlorantha (Green-flowered Pyrola)
|Also known as:
|part shade, shade; dry to wet soil; coniferous and hardwood forests, swamps, bogs, talus slopes, cliffs
|June - July
|4 to 12 inches
|Wetland Indicator Status:
|GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):
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Raceme of 3 to 10 hanging flowers on short stalks at the top of the stem. Flowers are greenish white, with five roundish petals 1/6 to ~1/3 inch (4.5 to 9 mm) long and a cluster of yellowish to brown-tipped stamens under the upper petals. The style is pale green and curves down and out below the lower petals like an elephant's trunk. Flowers are about ½ inch across when fully open. The calyx cupping the flower has 5 lobes that are light green and triangular to egg-shaped, about as long as wide and less than 1/3 as long as the petals. At the base of a flower stalk is a papery bract, lance-linear to awl shaped, usually shorter than the stalk.
Leaves are basal, leathery, 1 to ~1 1/3 inches (to 35 mm) long, about as wide as long, mostly roundish, broadest above, at or below the middle, toothless or with shallow rounded teeth around the edges, hairless, mostly rounded at the tip and the base, the leaf base sometimes narrowing to an obscurely winged stalk that is often longer than the blade. The upper surface is dark green, dull, sometimes with pale green or whitish bands bordering the larger veins on the upper surface. Flowering stems are smooth and may have a few scale-like leaves below the flower cluster.
Fruit is a capsule about 1/6 inch (to 4.5 mm) long, wider than long, somewhat compressed globular with 5 sections, each containing many seeds.
Green-flowered Pyrola has been recorded in about equal numbers in dry northern forests and wet coniferous swamps, less often on cliffs and moss-covered rocks. A good place to come across it is along hiking trails in Itasca, Savanna Portage and any of the state parks in the arrowhead. Like most Pyrolas, when you come across them, there are usually a number of flowering plants in a loose colony. The flowers are much like Shinleaf (Pyrola elliptica), which has larger leaves more consistently elliptic, medium green and only somewhat leathery, and Round-leaved Pyrola (Pyrola americana), which usually has shiny leaves and floral bracts longer than the flower stalk.
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Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in Aitkin County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?