Pyrola americana (Round-leaved Pyrola)

Plant Info
Also known as: American Wintergreen
Family:Ericaceae (Heath)
Life cycle:perennial
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):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, 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: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] 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: Fruit type: capsule/pod

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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More photos

Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Aitkin County. Pyrola americana leaves with pale bands along veins by Kristine Paulus, via Wikimedia Commons, used under CC BY 2.0


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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