Pyrola elliptica (Shinleaf)
|Also known as:||Waxflower Shinleaf, Wild Lily-of-the-valley|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; moist woods|
|Bloom season:||June - August|
|Plant height:||5 to 10 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: UPL MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.
Raceme of 7 to 15 hanging flowers on short stalks at the top of the stem. Flowers are white with five roundish petals ¼ to 3/8 inch (6 to 10 mm) long and a cluster of yellowish to brown-tipped stamens under the upper petals. The style is pale green to whitish and curves down and out below the lower petals like an elephant's trunk. Flowers are up to about ½ inch across when fully open. The calyx cupping the flower has 5 lobes that are light green and triangular to egg-shaped, about as long as wide and less than ¼ as long as the petals. At the base of a flower stalk is a papery bract, lance-linear to awl shaped, usually shorter than the stalk.
Leaves are basal, somewhat leathery, 1 to ~3 inches (to 80 mm) long, longer than wide, mostly elliptic, broadest at or above the middle, hairless, mostly rounded at the tip, tapering to rounded at the base, the leaf base sometimes narrowing to an obscurely winged stalk that is as long as or shorter than the blade. Edges are toothless or shallowly scalloped, but often have obscure teeth with a minute point (denticulate). The upper surface is dark to medium green, dull to somewhat shiny. Flowering stems are smooth and may have a few scale-like leaves below the flower cluster.
Shinleaf is one of the most common Pyrola species in Minnesota, found primarily in coniferous and deciduous woods. Shinleaf is distinguished primarily by the dull leaves that are pretty consistently longer than wide, where other Pyrolas have leaves that are typically more round to kidney-shaped and more leathery, though there is some variability. The flowers resemble those of Round-leaved Pyrola (Pyrola americana), which has floral bracts longer than the flower stalk and longer calyx lobes that are longer than wide. Green-flowered Pyrola (Pyrola chlorantha) also has similar flowers but are more greenish, and its leaves are smaller and rounder.
Please visit our sponsors
Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?