Moneses uniflora one-flowered wintergreen

Alaska Wildflowers | White

Several one-flowered wintergreen (moneses uniflora) plants with nodding, white flowers and spreading petals.

Moneses uniflora one-flowered wintergreen

Common Names

monésès uniflore
monésès à une fleur
pyrole à une fleur
one-flowered wintergreen
one-flowered pyrola
one-flowered shinleaf
shy maiden
single delight
wax flower
wood nymph

Synonyms

Moneses grandiflora
Moneses uniflora ssp. reticulata
Moneses uniflora var. reticulata
Pyrola uniflora
Pyrola uniflora var. uniflora
Pyrola uniflora var. reticulata

Subspecies

none

Genus: Moneses
Family: Ericaceae
Order: Ericales
taxonomic heirarchy

Etymology

Scientific Name: Moneses uniflora

The genus name Moneses is derived from the Greek words “monos” (μόνος), meaning “single” or “alone,” and “hesis” (ἕσις), meaning “delight” or “joy”. This name refers to the plant’s solitary flower. Also, being monotypic, the plant is the only species in the genus Moneses.



The specific epithet uniflora comes from the Latin “uni-” meaning “one” or “single,” and “flora” meaning “flower,” again describing the plant’s characteristic single bloom.

Common Names: One-flowered Wintergreen, Single Delight, and Wood Nymph

The common name “one-flowered wintergreen” highlights the plant’s distinguishing feature: a single, nodding flower per stem and its association with the wintergreen family, despite its different genus. The name “single delight” emphasizes the solitary, charming flower that brings delight to those who find it. “Wood nymph” evokes the mythical forest creatures, reflecting the plant’s habitat in woodland environments.

Duration – Growth Habit

Perennial – Forb/herb

Identification and Information

Moneses uniflora, commonly known as one-flowered wintergreen or single delight, is a small, single-flowering perennial herb in the heath family (Ericaceae). It grows from a slender, rhizome-like horizontal root. The evergreen leaves are mostly basal, often forming a whorl around the stem. These leaves have a 5-20 mm petiole, are dull green abaxially (lower surface), and dark green and shiny adaxially (upper surface). The leaves are veiny with finely toothed margins, measuring 1-4 cm long, and are egg-shaped. The stems are erect, typically 3-10 cm tall (although they can grow up to 30 cm), hairless, and curved at the top.

The inflorescence consists of a single, terminal, nodding flower. The flower is fragrant and typically has five sepals and five petals, although occasionally, specimens with six petals are encountered. The calyx lobes (sepals) are green or green with white edges, spreading, and sometimes reflexed (bent back), each about 2 mm long. The petals are much larger, white, ovate to broadly ovate with a rounded apex, 7-11 mm long, and widely spreading. The stigma is large, green, and 5-lobed with a toothed stigma. The flower also features ten thick, reflexed stamens, each 2-4 mm long, with two stamens along each petal. The fruit is a globe-shaped capsule, 5-10 mm wide, that turns upward as it matures.


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Uses

For information only (typically historical) – I take no responsibility for adverse effects from the use of any plant.

Moneses uniflora has been utilized by various Native American tribes for medicinal purposes. Traditionally, the plant was used as a remedy for colds and skin problems. According to the Native American Ethnobotany Database, the plant was used as a dermatological aid and cold remedy. Specifically, the leaves and flowers were used to treat colds, sore throats, upset stomachs, and lung troubles such as tuberculosis. The flowers were applied to treat rashes, bunions, and corns by securing them with a cloth bandage on the affected area.

Recent scientific research has discovered that extracts from the stems and leaves possess antibiotic properties effective against several mycobacteria, including the bacteria responsible for tuberculosis.

Additionally, the plant contains vitamin C and is considered edible. It has been occasionally used to brew tea. The seeds and capsules are also reported to be edible raw, roasted, parched, or ground. However, the plant is small and rarely abundant enough to be gathered in significant quantities.


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Distribution and Habitat

Map data from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), NatureServe Explorer, and Kew

Moneses uniflora has a primarily circumboreal distribution and is widely found across Canada, Alaska, Asia (including Siberia, China, Mongolia, the Koreas, and Japan), and most of Europe. In North America, it extends into the western United States, predominantly in and west of the Rockies, with some presence in the Midwest and the Northeast.

It is primarily a woodland species found in moist forests, frequently growing in mossy environments.

Classification

RankScientific Name (Common Name)
ClassEquisetopsida
SubclassMagnoliidae
SuperorderAsteranae
OrderEricales
FamilyEricaceae (heath family)
SubfamilyMonotropoideae
TribePyroleae
GenusMoneses
SpeciesMoneses uniflora (one-flowered wintergreen)

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References and Further Reading

Guidebook

Pratt, V. E. (1989). Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers: Commonly Seen Along Highways and Byways (p. 61). Alaskakrafts, inc.

Johnson, D., Kershaw, L., & MacKinnon, A. (2020). Plants of the Western Forest: Alaska to Minnesota Boreal and Aspen Parkland (3rd ed., p. 156). Partners Publishing. ISBN 978-1772130591.

Brandenburg, D. M. 2010. National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Wildflowers of North America. Sterling Publishing. (p. 451)

Classification and Taxonomy

Data Canadensys. (2024). Moneses uniflora. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from https://data.canadensys.net/vascan/taxon/5536?lang=en

Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). (2024). Moneses uniflora. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=503869

USDA NRCS PLANTS Database. (2024). Moneses uniflora. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from https://plants.usda.gov/home/plantProfile?symbol=MOUN2

Etymology

Quattrocchi, U. (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names: Common Names, Scientific Names, Eponyms, Synonyms, and Etymology. CRC Press.

Wikipedia. (2024). Moneses. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moneses

USDA Forest Service. (n.d.). Moneses uniflora. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from USDA Forest Service.

Uses

Native American Ethnobotany Database. (2024). Moneses uniflora. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from http://naeb.brit.org/uses/species/2518/

Map and Distribution

Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). (2024). Moneses uniflora. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from https://www.gbif.org/species/2888298

NatureServe Explorer. (2024). Moneses uniflora. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from https://explorer.natureserve.org/Taxon/ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.143308/Moneses_uniflora

Plants of the World Online (POWO). (2024). Moneses uniflora. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from https://powo.science.kew.org/taxon/urn:lsid.org:names:331307-1

Description and Information

Flora of North America (FNA). (2024). Moneses uniflora. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from http://floranorthamerica.org/Moneses_uniflora

Hultén, E. (1968). Flora of Alaska and Neighboring Territories: A Manual of the Vascular Plants (1st ed.) (pg. 714). Stanford University Press.

Ecological Atlas of Denali’s Flora. (2024). Moneses uniflora. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from https://ecologicalatlas.uaf.edu/index.php/browse-plant-species/atlas-page/?nps_id=1255

University of British Columbia (UBC) E-Flora. (2024). Moneses uniflora. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from https://linnet.geog.ubc.ca/Atlas/Atlas.aspx?sciname=Moneses%20uniflora

Wikipedia. (2024). Moneses. Retrieved June 28, 2024, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moneses

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