Linnaea borealis (Twinflower)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Genus:Linnaea
Family:Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle)
Life cycle:perennial woody
Origin:native
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

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: bell

[photo of flowers] A pair of small pink nodding flowers at the top of a slender, hairy stem that is forked near its summit. The funnel shaped flowers have 5 rounded lobes that are whiter than the tube. The flowers are 1/3 to ½ inch long and smooth on the outside but lined with small hairs on the inside. The small calyx holding the flower has 5 narrow lobes, sharply pointed and densely hairy.

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 and hairy, creeping along the ground up to six feet, rooting down at the nodes forming large colonial mats.

Notes:

Twinflower is a circumboreal species with 3 varieties in North America; ours in Minnesota is the American variety, var. americana. It is reported to have been a favorite of Carolus Linnaeus, father of bi-nomial nomenclature, after whom it was named.

Please visit our sponsors

  • Minnesota Native Plant Society

Where to buy native seed and plants ↓

Map of native plant purveyors in the upper midwest

  • Shooting Star Native Seeds - Native Prairie Grass and Wildflower Seeds
  • Morning Sky Greenery - Native Prairie Plants
  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers
  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water
  • Itasca Ladyslipper Farm - Native orchids, container grown

More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Lake and Aitkin counties.

Comments

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: 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!

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.



(required)




Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.