Round-leaved Wintergreen (Pyrola rotundifolia) exists as either of two sub-species:
Round-leaved Wintergreen exists as either of two sub-species:
The two sub-species have great overlap in most characteristics except perhaps for the shape of the sepals. The styles in particular on the above specimens are quite long, longer than the quoted maximum length of 6mm for ssp. maritima!
Round-leaved Wintergreen (Pyrola rotundifolia ssp. rotundifolia) [RR]: Leaves ovate-elliptic, only rarely round (thus ssp. rotundifolia (which is a misnomer!). Flower stalks (pedicels) are at 4-8mm long are slightly longer than those of ssp. maritima. The style, at 6-10mm long, is longer than that of ssp.maritima. Grows in woods, on rock-ledges, bogs and fens.
Round-leaved Wintergreen (Pyrola rotundifolia ssp. maritima) [RR]: where most leaves really are round. Flower stalks (pedicels) are at only 2-5mm long are slightly shorter than those of ssp. rotundifolia. The style too, at just 4-6mm long, is shorter than that of ssp. rotundifolia. Sepals oblong-lanceolate with obtuse-angled extremity. Grows in dune-slacks near the sea on the west coast of Britain from North Devon to Cumbria; also County Wexford in Ireland and is more extensive than ssp. rotundifolia.
The photos above must represent the more frequently found ssp. martima sub-species since they are on the west coast at Sefton. The shape of the sepals bears this out (as well as the open-lamp-shade type of corolla - both Common Wintergreen (Pyrola minor) and
Intermediate Wintergreen (Pyrola media) have more or less globe-shaped flowers).
They are called 'Wintergreens' on account of their leaves, which remain evergreen throughout winter.
Not to be semantically confused with Chickweed Wintergreen (Trientalis europaea) which is neither a Wintergreen (as described here) nor a
Chickweed. The three are totally un-related to each other, in differing Families.
Uniquely identifiable characteristics
Distinguishing Feature :
No relation to : Chickweed Wintergreen [a plant with similar name] which belongs in the Primrose Family.
OIL of WINTERGREEN
Oil of Wintergreen, Methyl Salicylate, is the methyl ester of Salicylic Acid (which is also a
plant hormone). It is produced by all plants of the Genus Pyrola Wintergreens, as well as those of the Spireae Family (Meadowsweets) as well as by some species of those of both the Genus Gaultheria and Betula.
Its presence in plants may be to attract those insects which attack herbivorous insects. It is commercially extracted not from any Wintergreen plant, but from twigs of the
Sweet Birch tree (Betula Lenta. It is used a fragrance in certain products not necessarily including perfumes, and in deep-heat liniments and in trace amounts as a flavour in some chewing gums, candies and mouthwashes as an alternative to spearmint and peppermint for it is also an anti-septic. Like most essential oils, it is poisonous in greater amounts.
Methyl Salicylate is a pheromone attractant to male orchid bees.