Pyrola americana (Round-leaved Pyrola)

Plant Info
Also known as: American Wintergreen
Family:Ericaceae (Heath)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; dry woods
Bloom season:June - July
Plant height:2 to 20 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FAC
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flower] Raceme of 6 to 20 hanging flowers on short stalks at the top of the stem. Flowers are creamy white, about ½ to ¾ inch across with five round petals and a cluster of yellow 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. The sepals are light green and egg-shaped to oblong, about twice as long as wide and about 1/3 as long as the petals.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are basal, mostly round, toothless or with shallow rounded teeth around the edges, hairless, 1 to 1½ inches long, the leaf base narrowing to an obscurely winged stalk, the blade shorter than or equal to the leaf stalk. The upper surface is dark green and glossy, very veiny. The stem is smooth.


Preferring northern sandy forests, Round-leaved Pyrola can be found in coniferous stands of red and jack pine, but like many adaptable native species it's also been collected in sphagnum swamps. The flowers are similar to the more common Shinleaf (Pyrola elliptica), which has triangular sepals about as long as wide and leaves that are dull and longer than wide. All of the Pyrolas have been move from family Pyrolaceae (Wintergreen) to Ericaceae (Heath).

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Aitkin County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Carol - Champlin
on: 2013-06-29 19:37:33

I found this flower at the Federal Campground on Snake River near Pine City, Minnesota today and was very intrigued with it's odor. The leaves almost look like Plantain leaves. In doing some research online I found out that this plant contains arbutin, a proven diuretic and antibacterial agent that is used as a urinary antiseptic as well as a myriad of other holistic values.

Posted by: Robert Wernerehl - entire state
on: 2020-07-03 10:56:28

Would love a good sepal shot on this. Can be helpful with ID.

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