Pyrola americana (Round-leaved Pyrola)
|Also known as:||American Wintergreen|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; sandy soil; Jack pine stands, coniferous and mixed forests, swamps|
|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):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Raceme of 6 to 20 hanging flowers on short stalks at the top of the stem. Flowers are creamy white, with five roundish petals ¼ to ~3/8 inch (6 to 10.5 mm) long 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. Flowers are about ½ to ¾ inch across when fully open. The calyx cupping the flower has 5 lobes that are light green and egg-shaped to oblong, about twice as long as wide and up to 1/3 as long as the petals. At the base of the flower stalk is a papery bract, lance to narrowly egg-shaped, longer than the stalk.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are basal, leathery, 1 to ~3 inches (to 75 mm) 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 narrowing to an obscurely winged stalk that is as long as or shorter than the blade. The upper surface is dark green, often glossy, and very veiny, 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 1/8 inch (to 3.5 mm) long, wider than long, somewhat compressed globular with 5 sections, each containing many seeds.
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 thin, dull and longer than wide. Green-flowered Pyrola (Pyrola chlorantha) has a very similar leaf shape and has prominent pale veins, but the upper surface is dull with fewer veins, plus its sepals are triangular, as long as wide. The leaves of Pink Pyrola (Pyrola asarifolia) are more kidney-shaped.
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