Pyrola chlorantha
green-flowered wintergreen

Alaska Wildflowers | White

A single stem of Pyrola chlorantha, commonly known as green-flowered wintergreen, stands upright in a forested area. The plant features small, nodding, greenish-white flowers arranged along the upper part of the stem, with each flower delicately hanging down. The basal leaves are rounded and dark green, clustered at the base of the stem. The background is a forest floor covered in moss and fallen pine needles, indicating a moist, shaded habitat typical for this species. Pyrola chlorantha is known for its circumboreal distribution, inhabiting coniferous and deciduous forests across Alaska, Canada, and northern regions of the United States, Europe, and Asia.

Pyrola chlorantha
green-flowered wintergreen

Common Names

pyrole à fleurs verdâtres
pyrole verdâtre
greenflower shinleaf
green-flowered pyrola
green-flowered wintergreen
greenish pyrola
greenish wintergreen
green wintergreen

Synonyms

Pyrola chlorantha var. paucifolia
Pyrola virens
Pyrola virens var. virens
Pyrola virens var. convoluta

Subspecies

none

Genus: Pyrola (wintergreen)
Family: Ericaceae (heaths)
Order: Ericales
taxonomic heirarchy

Etymology

The genus name Pyrola is derived from the Latin “pirum” or “pyrum,” meaning “pear.” This refers to the shape of the leaves in some species of this genus, which resemble small pear leaves.

The specific epithet chlorantha comes from the Greek “χλωρός” (chloros), meaning “green,” and “ἄνθος” (anthos), meaning “flower.” This directly describes the greenish color of the flowers, which is a distinctive characteristic of this species.



The vernacular name “green-flowered wintergreen” is a descriptive translation of the scientific name. “Wintergreen” is a common name applied to several plants in the family Ericaceae, including those in the genus Pyrola. Wintergreen generally refers to plants that remain green throughout the winter, a characteristic shared by many species in this genus.

Duration – Growth Habit

Perennial – Forb/herb

Identification and Information

Vegetative Morphology:

Pyrola chlorantha, commonly known as green-flowered wintergreen or green-flowered pyrola, is a perennial herb in the heath family (Ericaceae) that grows from a long, slender rhizome. The plant’s leaves are all basal, sometimes reduced or absent, and form a rosette around the stem base with 8-60 mm long petioles, often longer than the blades. The leaves are shiny and dull green above, dark green below, and are ovate, elliptic, obovate, or sometimes round. The margins of the leaves are entire or finely toothed. The flowering stems (scapes) are 9-25 cm tall.

Reproductive Morphology:

The inflorescence is a terminal raceme consisting of 2-8 flowers (occasionally as few as one or as many as ten). The flowers are nodding, hanging down from their pedicels, which are 3-8 mm long. Each flower is weakly bilaterally symmetric and measures 9-13 mm wide. The calyx lobes can be appressed or spreading and are triangular to deltate-ovate in shape. The sepals are green or pinkish with hyaline to white margins, measuring 0.9-1.7 mm in length and 0.9-1.9 mm in width. The petals are greenish-white to yellowish-white, obovate, and 5-6 mm long. It has a curved style, 4-7 mm long, that protrudes from the flower (exerted), with a collar below the stigma. They have numerous stamens with 2.5-3 mm long anthers, usually within the flower. The fruit are 5 mm wide, 4-7 mm long, globe-shaped capsules.


Affiliate link – I earn a commission if you shop through the link(s) below at no additional cost to you (more info)

Uses

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

Pyrola chlorantha has been traditionally used for various medicinal purposes. The plant contains compounds similar to those found in aspirin, such as methyl salicylate, which give it analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. The leaves, high in methyl salicylate, can be chewed and applied as a poultice to wounds to relieve pain and reduce swelling​. It has been used to treat urinary tract infections without causing significant irritation to the intestinal lining. Fresh leaves moistened and applied to the skin serve as effective counter-irritants. The plant has been used in decoctions to promote the healing of bruises, insect bites, and wounds. It is particularly noted for its use in treating sore throats, ulcerations of the mouth, and inflamed eyelids​. The plant has also been used to treat menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding), diarrhea, and hemorrhages. It is also used to treat bloody diarrhea in children.


Affiliate link – I earn a commission if you shop through the link(s) below at no additional cost to you (more info)
Unlimited Photo Storage

Distribution and Habitat

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

Pyrola chlorantha has a widespread circumboreal distribution. This species is found in Alaska, Canada, the northern and western United States, much of Europe, and northern Asia.

It thrives in moist to dry coniferous and deciduous forests, typically inhabiting shady and cool environments with well-drained, acidic soils.

Classification

RankScientific Name (Common Name)
ClassEquisetopsida
SubclassMagnoliidae
SuperorderAsteranae
OrderEricales
FamilyEricaceae (heaths)
SubfamilyMonotropoideae
TribePyroleae
GenusPyrola (wintergreen)
SectionPyrola sect. Ampliosepala
SeriesPyrola ser. Chloranthae
SpeciesPyrola chlorantha

Affiliate link – I earn a commission if you shop through the link(s) below at no additional cost to you (more info)

References and Further Reading

Guidebook

Pratt, V. E. (1989). Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers: Commonly Seen Along Highways and Byways (p. 15). Alaskakrafts, inc.

Johnson, D., Kershaw, L., & MacKinnon, A. (2020). Plants of the Western Forest: Alaska to Minnesota Boreal and Aspen Parkland (3rd ed., p. 157). Partners Publishing. ISBN 978-1772130591.

Brandenburg, D. M. 2010. National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Wildflowers of North America. Sterling Publishing. (p. 452)

Classification and Taxonomy

VASCAN. (2024). “Pyrola chlorantha”. Retrieved 7/8/24, from https://data.canadensys.net/vascan/taxon/5549?lang=en

ITIS. (2024). “Pyrola chlorantha”. Retrieved 7/8/24, from https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=23757#null

USDA PLANTS Database. (2024). “Pyrola chlorantha”. Retrieved 7/8/24, from https://plants.usda.gov/home/plantProfile?symbol=PYCH

Uses

Native American Ethnobotany Database. (2024). “Pyrola chlorantha”. Retrieved 7/8/24, from http://naeb.brit.org/uses/species/3240/

Flora of Dempster Country. (n.d.). Pyrola chlorantha: Green-flowered wintergreen. Retrieved July 9, 2024, from https://www.flora.dempstercountry.org/0.Site.Folder/Species.Program/Species2.php?species_id=Pyro.chlora

See “Plants of the Western Forest” by Johnson and Kershaw in Guidebook references above

Map and Distribution

GBIF. (2024). “Pyrola chlorantha”. Retrieved 7/8/24, from https://www.gbif.org/species/2888276

NatureServe Explorer. (2024). “Pyrola chlorantha”. Retrieved 7/8/24, from https://explorer.natureserve.org/Taxon/ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.136491/Pyrola_chlorantha

POWO. (2024). “Pyrola chlorantha”. Retrieved 7/8/24, from https://powo.science.kew.org/taxon/urn:lsid.org:names:331799-1

Description and Information

Flora of North America. (2024). “Pyrola chlorantha”. Retrieved 7/8/24, from http://floranorthamerica.org/Pyrola_chlorantha

Hultén, E. (1968). Flora of Alaska and Neighboring Territories: A Manual of the Vascular Plants (1st ed.) (pg. 712). Stanford University Press.

E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia. (2024). “Pyrola chlorantha”. Retrieved 7/8/24, from https://linnet.geog.ubc.ca/Atlas/Atlas.aspx?sciname=Pyrola%20chlorantha&redblue=Both&lifeform=7

Support This Site

Consider becoming a member to access exclusive perks and support the sustainability of this valuable resource. Already a member? Log in here!

Level

Free

Trailblazer Monthly

Explorer Monthly

Patron Monthly

Price

Free.

$3.00 per Month.

$6.00 per Month.

$10.00 per Month.

Description

golden sunlight diffuses through the dense stand of snow-laden spruce trees, casting long shadows and bathing the forest in a warm, hazy light.

  Select Select Select Select
Occasional Newsletter Yes Yes Yes Yes
Free Articles Yes Yes Yes Yes
Exclusive Content* No Yes Yes Yes
Ad-free browsing** No No Yes Yes
Discounts on Prints No No Yes Yes
Priority Responses For Questions No No No Yes
Advanced Notice On New Content No No No Yes
More In-depth Content No No No Yes
  Select Select Select Select

Free

golden sunlight diffuses through the dense stand of snow-laden spruce trees, casting long shadows and bathing the forest in a warm, hazy light.

  • Occasional Newsletter
  • Free Articles
Select

Free.

Trailblazer Monthly

  • Occasional Newsletter
  • Free Articles
  • Exclusive Content*
Select

$3.00 per Month.

Explorer Monthly

  • Occasional Newsletter
  • Free Articles
  • Exclusive Content*
  • Ad-free browsing**
  • Discounts on Prints
Select

$6.00 per Month.

Patron Monthly

  • Occasional Newsletter
  • Free Articles
  • Exclusive Content*
  • Ad-free browsing**
  • Discounts on Prints
  • Priority Responses For Questions
  • Advanced Notice On New Content
  • More In-depth Content
Select

$10.00 per Month.

* I don’t plan on hiding much content behind a paywall because I believe it should be open and accessible to all. However, maintaining this website involves a significant investment of both time and money. I spend countless hours building and writing these pages and articles and incur thousands of dollars annually to keep the site running.

Your support through membership helps cover these expenses and allows me to continue providing high-quality content. Membership allows you to access exclusive perks and content and contribute to this valuable resource's sustainability. Thank you for your support!

** Ads and affiliate links will still be shown on relevant content, like in gear reviews.

   

Related Posts

A close-up of Pedicularis langsdorffii, commonly known as Langsdorff's lousewort or Arctic fernweed. The plant features a dense, terminal spike of pink to lavender flowers, each flower exhibiting a two-lipped (bilabiate) structure. The upper lip (galea) is strongly arched and hood-like, with a pair of slender teeth near the tip, while the lower lip has three rounded lobes and is slightly paler. The inflorescence is mixed with leaf-like bracts, which are deeply pinnately divided, with serrate margins. The flowers and bracts are attached to an erect, somewhat long-woolly stem. The background is a blurred mix of green foliage, emphasizing the intricate details and vibrant colors of the Pedicularis langsdorffii flowers.
A single stem of Orthilia secunda, commonly known as one-sided wintergreen or sidebells wintergreen, is shown in a forested setting. The plant features a raceme of small, nodding, greenish-white flowers arranged along the upper side of the stem. The basal leaves are broad, dark green, and slightly serrated, with a few additional leaves visible on the lower part of the stem. The surrounding environment includes moss and fallen leaves, with a nearby plant exhibiting rounder, glossy green leaves. Orthilia secunda thrives in this shaded, moist forest habitat.
<i>Cypripedium passerinum</i> <br>sparrow’s-egg lady’s slipper