categoryZEvergreen Evergreen List 

ROUND-LEAVED WINTERGREEN

Pyrola rotundifolia

Heather Family [Ericaceae]  

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8Aug

category
category8Evergreen
status
statusZnative
flower
flower8white
inner
inner8yellow
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ5
stem
stem8round
rarity
rarityZscarce

Pyrola rotundifolia ssp. maritima

7th Aug 2009, Sand Dunes, Southport, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
A swarm of Round-leaved Wintergreen in a dune slack near the sea.


8th July 2014, dune slacks, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
A low to short plant, mostly between 10 and 20cm.


8th July 2009, Sand Dunes, Southport, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Between Yellow-wort and Common Centaury, a single stalk of Round-leaved Wintergreen arises from four basal leaves. The stem leaves (bracts) are short and stubby.


16th Aug 2009, Sand Dunes, Southport, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
By transmitted light the stem is a delicate translucent pink. As yet un-opened flower buds near summit. Single flower at the end of a short curved stalk.


8th July 2009, Sand Dunes, Southport, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Bearing eight or so white flowers, the lowest opening first, hanging earthwards on short stems.


8th July 2014, dune slacks, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The innards of the flowers are not normally visible even viewed edge-on, such is the magnitude of the flower droop. Your Author has gently pushed this specimen away from it's normally bolt-upright stance.


16th Aug 2009, Sand Dunes, Southport, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The stamens dangle provocatively.


23rd July 2015, Birkdale dune slacks, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Bird's-eye view. (A very hairy Kidney Vetch seed-head lurks at the top right-hand corner).


23rd July 2015, Birkdale dune slacks, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Anthers gather untidily to one side and well away from the style, purposely avoiding it.


8th July 2009, Sand Dunes, Southport, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
One long pink style protrudes rudely well out of the bell-shaped flower. The anthers are double-barrelled and orange-tipped. Style widens towards the end before coming to the (very red) stigmas at the tip.


8th July 2009, Sand Dunes, Southport, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The five petals are brilliant white with pink tinges. Many greenish cream-coloured anthers with orange tips hang around untidily well within the bell. The style (pink to red) emerges from a spherical ovary.


8th July 2014, dune slacks, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Your Author gets the feeling that this juxtaposition of anthers and style is what the plant strives to achieve as ideal: well separated and with the (nominally) 10 'double-barrelled' anthers neatly folded backwards in a tight compact group (at least initially).


8th July 2009, Sand Dunes, Southport, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The sepals are tinged red at the tips. They are the most reliable indicator of whether it is ssp. rotundifolia or ssp. maritima. The sub-species ssp. maritima has sepals that are oblong-lanceolate and obtuse-angled at the extremity, as depicted here.


8th July 2009, Sand Dunes, Southport, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The style on Round-leaved Wintergreen is almost always strongly curved (much straighter and very much shorter (1-2mm) on Common Wintergreen where they remain within the confines of the petals, which are also globed).


7th Aug 2009, Sand Dunes, Southport, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The fruits are red, and five-lobed and still have the style attached here, although now blackened at its tip.


8th July 2009, Sand Dunes, Southport, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The four basal leaves are satin shiny and some may be roundish. The smooth single stem has a reddish-green hue.


7th Aug 2009, Sand Dunes, Southport, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
A basal rosette of mid-green, nearly round, leaves are which are net-veined in light-green and have fawn blips on the edges where the veins reach the edges. Rarely, some leaves are round.


15th Aug 2014, Sand Dunes, Southport, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
In fruit, changes from green through pale to pink to violet when ripe.


15th Aug 2014, Sand Dunes, Southport, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Five sepals still attached, and the long curved stigma.


15th Aug 2014, Sand Dunes, Southport, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
From the front it looks like a five-segmented cushion, with each segment possibly containing two seeds.


Pyrola rotundifolia ssp. rotundifolia

Sorry - no photos as yet...



Round-leaved Wintergreen (Pyrola rotundifolia) exists as either of two sub-species:

    Round-leaved Wintergreen exists as either of two sub-species:
    • 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 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!

    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. It is produced by all plants of the Genus Pyrola Wintergreens, as well as those of the Spireae Family (Meadowsweets), by some species of those of both the Genus Gaultheria and the Genus 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.


  Pyrola rotundifolia  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Ericaceae  

Distribution
family8heather family8ericaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8pyrola
Pyrola
(Wintergreens)

ROUND-LEAVED WINTERGREEN

Pyrola rotundifolia

Heather Family [Ericaceae]  

WildFlowerFinder Homepage