Linnaea borealis (Twinflower)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle)
Life cycle:perennial woody
Habitat:part shade, shade; cool northern forest
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:3 to 6 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FAC 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 Flower shape: bell

[photo of flowers] A pair of nodding flowers at the top of a slender, hairy stem that is forked near its summit. Flowers are pink to purplish, 1/3 to ½ inch long flowers, the base of the flower a slender tube that flares into a funnel shape with 5 rounded lobes. The calyx holding the flower is 2 to 3 mm (to 1/8 inch) long, shorter than the floral tube, has 5 sharply pointed lobes and is covered in glandular hairs.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are nearly basal but opposite, evergreen, generally oval, 1/3 to 2/3 inch long, ¼ to nearly 2/3 inch wide, toothless or with several shallow teeth at the tip end, sparsely hairy on upper surface, nearly smooth underneath, tapering to a short stalk. Stems are fine, wiry, covered in a mix of glandular and non-glandular hairs, and creeping along the ground up to six feet, rooting down at the nodes forming large colonial mats.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

Fruit is a small 1-seeded capsule wrapped in a pair of small bracts covered in glandular hairs.


Twinflower is a circumboreal species with 3 subspecies (or varieties, depending on the reference) in North America; ours in Minnesota is the most common, subsp. americana. Most of Minnesota's herbarium records are listed as var. longiflora, but the general consensus is that subspecies/var is restricted to western North America; differences between the two are not well-documented. Twinflower is reported to have been a favorite of Carolus Linnaeus, father of bi-nomial nomenclature, after whom it was named.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Savanna Portage State Park, Aitkin County. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Aitkin and Lake counties.


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

Posted by: Trista - Lake Eighteen; near Isabella
on: 2013-07-05 14:33:28

We saw these flowers in clumps along the trail that goes around the lake. Beautiful hike and we saw 5 more types I've never seen before. So pretty!! We didn't know what they were so we named them Trissybelles.

Posted by: Kelly - Jay Cooke State Park, Carlton, MN
on: 2014-06-26 09:13:41

I spotted these beautiful flowers along a hiking trail at Jay Cooke State Park, along the river. They are so small, yet so beautiful!

Posted by: Peg - Renville county and Carver county
on: 2015-01-26 14:22:59

Is there a place to purchase the Linnaea plants? They are so pretty and my ancestors are from the Smaland, Sweden area where these are from. I would appreciate any information on buying them to plant in either Renville or Carver counties where we have homes. Thank you very much.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2015-01-26 19:48:09

Peg, see "where to buy native seed and plants" that's on almost every page here.

Posted by: luciearl - Fairview Township
on: 2015-06-13 13:36:47

I found a clump of this delicate little flowers today growing in our woods. First time ever seeing them.

Posted by: Robert - Isle Royale
on: 2015-06-24 06:19:51

My wife and I encountered Linnaea borealis in the last week of June 38 years ago on Isle Royale. We now live in Vilas County in northern Wisconsin and were happy to find a large patch of Twinflowers growing under the sugar maples, balsam fir and hemlock on our property there. This is now very special to us and we await there flowering each June around our anniversary.

Posted by: Devon - Winona
on: 2016-03-03 13:51:03

I have not seen it here. Maybe we're too far south. (Winona) The pictures are amazing and I would like to buy seeds or plants. I have looked online over and over by now and it seems that really nobody sells it. I went to Rice Greek Gardens, but the plants she'd potted for me during the winter had died.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2016-03-03 18:22:59

Devon, if you look at the county distribution map you'll see Winona is outside twinflower's natural range. Many plants can survive outside their natural range in cultivation, though. I don't know a commercial source for twinflower, but just please don't dig up any plants from the wild.

Posted by: kristin - Fairview Township
on: 2016-03-19 22:34:42

I found one twin flower in my natural woods last year. It will be interesting to see what flowers return after last year's "blow down". I lost 80% of my trees, but have refused foresters that would come in and damage wildflowers and mushrooms.

Posted by: Laura - Ely
on: 2017-05-25 10:41:16

Just a note- I found this in the shrub category. Don't get me wrong, though, I love this site!!

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2017-05-26 19:45:06

Laura, it is considered a shrub because it has a perennial woody base with a thin bark. It's called a subshrub because of its small size.

Posted by: Laura - Ely
on: 2017-05-30 07:09:26

Another reason to love the site. I never would've guessed it was a shrub, but now I know. Thanks for the new information!

Posted by: Elaine E - Cook County, in George Washington Pines
on: 2017-06-18 15:26:47

One of my favorite June flowers!

Posted by: Sherrie Hood - North Arm Trail, Ely MN
on: 2020-06-19 19:06:44

6-19-20 Loads of these all along sides of the trail. Not hard to find.

Posted by: John Lawrey - Grand Portage
on: 2023-07-27 23:47:15

Seen on a hiking trail on the reservation.

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