Northern Ontario Plant Database
Pyrola asarifolia Michx.
En: pink pyrola, bog wintergreen, alpine shinleaf, pink wintergreen
Ericaceae (Blueberry Family)
General: An erect perennial forb, scapose, to 35 cm tall; growing from a creeping rhizome. The flowering stalk (scape) pink to reddish, with 1–3 red to brown coriaceous, basal bracts.
Leaves: Basal, several in a loose rosette, simple, long-petiolate, evergreen, firm to leathery (coriacous), glabrous and often lustrous above; leaf blade orbicular to reniform, 2–6.5 cm long; leaf bases rounded to slightly cordate, apex rounded; margins entire to slightly crenate.
Flowers: Arranged in an erect raceme, to 3.5 dm tall, and bearing up to 22 flowers. Flowers are bisexual, nodding, to 1.2 cm wide; sepals 5, connate at the base; petals 5, deep to pale pink (paler in shaded environments), concave, elliptic to ovate, 6–8 mm long; stamens 10, anthers 2–2.7 mm long, terminating in a pair of apical pores through which pollen is shed; ovary superior, 5-carpelled; the style protruding (exerted) and curved (J-shaped), to 1 cm long, the stigma 5-lobed. Flowering July to August.
Fruit: A dry capsule, splitting through the carpels (loculicidal capsule) to release the numerous minute seeds.
Habitat and Range: Calcareous woods, thickets, and wetlands; limestone barrens (Newfoundland). Plants in exposed habitats are much shorter and have more coriaceous leaves than those plants growing in wooded, more protected habitats. The pink pyrola is native to boreal North America and Asia; it occurs throughout Ontario, but prefers rich, calcareous substrates and cool, shaded habitats.
Internet Images: The Pyrola asarifolia page from Montana Plant Life
Similar Species: There are several white-flowered species of Pyrola in Ontario, but only Pyrola asarifolia has flowers with pink petals.
- written by Derek Goertz and Susan J. Meades
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