(Pyrola rolundifolia) Wintergreen family

Flowers - Very fragrant, white, in a spike; 6 to 20, nodding from

an erect, bracted scape 6 to 20 in. high. Calyx 5-parted corolla,

over 1/2 in. across, of 5 concave, obtuse petals 10 stamens,

protruding pistil, style curved, stigma 5-lobed. Leaves: All

spreading from the base by margined petioles; shining leathery

green, round or broadly oval, obtuse, 1 1/2 to 3 in. long,

persistent through the winter.

Preferred Habitat - Open woods.

Flowering Season - June-July.

Distribution - Nova Scotia to Georgia, west to Ohio and


Deliciously fragrant little flowers, nodding from an erect,

slender stalk, when seen at a distance are often mistaken for

lilies-of-the-valley growing wild. But closer inspection of the

rounded, pearlike leaves in a cluster from the running root, and

the concave, not bell-shaped, white, waxen blossoms, with the

pistil protruding and curved, indicate the commonest of the

pyrolas. Some of its kin dwell in bogs and wet places, but this

plant and the shin-leaf carpet drier woodland where dwarf

cornels, partridge vines, pipsissewa, and goldthread weave their

charming patterns too. Certain of the lovely pyrola clan, whose

blossoms range from greenish white, flesh-color, and pink to deep

purplish rose, have so many features in common they were once

counted mere varieties of this round-leaved wintergreen - an

easygoing classification broken up by later-day systematists, who

now rank the varieties as distinct species. It will be noticed

that all these flowers have their anthers erect in the bud but

reversed at flowering time, each of the two sacs opening by a

pore which, in reality, is at the base of the sac, though by

reversion it appears to be at the top. To these pores small bees

and flies fasten their short lips to feed on pollen, some of

which will be necessarily .jarred out on them as they struggle

for a foothold on the stamens, and will be carried by them to

another flower's protruding stigma, which impedes their entrance

purposely to receive the imported pollen.

By reason of the old custom of clapping on a so-called

"shinplaster" to every bruise, regardless of its location on the

human body, a lovely little plant, whose leaves were once counted

a first aid to the injured, still suffers instead under an

unlovely name. The SHIN-LEAF (P. elliptica) sends up a naked

flower-stalk, scaly at the base, often with a bract midway, and

bearing at the top from seven to fifteen very fragrant, nodding,

waxen, greenish-white blossoms, similar to the round-leaved

wintergreen's. But on the thinner, dull, dark-green, upright

leaves, with slight wavy indentations, scarcely to be called

teeth, on the margins, their shorter leaf-stalks often reddish,

one chiefly depends to name this common plant. It is usually

found, in company with a few or many of its fellows, in rich

woodlands so far west as the Rocky Mountains, blooming from June

to August, according to the climate of its wide range.

When the little SERRATED or ONE-SIDED WINTERGREEN (P. secunda)

first sends up its slender raceme in June or July, it is erect

but presently the small, greenish-white flowers, opening

irregularly along one side, appear to weigh it downward into a

curve. Usually several bracted scapes rise from a running,

branched rootstock, to a height of from three to (rarely) ten

inches above a cluster of basal evergreen leaves. These latter

are rather thin, oval, slightly pointed, wavy or slightly

saw-edged, the midrib prominent above and below. A peculiarity of

the flowers is, that their petals are partially welded together

into little bells, with the clapper (alias the straight green

pistil) protruding, and the stamens united around its base. After

the blossoms have been fertilized, the tiny, round,

five-scalloped seed capsules, with the pistil still protruding,

remain in evidence for months, as is usual in the pyrola clan.

Small as the plant is, it has managed to distribute itself over

Europe, Asia, and the woods and thickets of our own land from

Labrador to Alaska, southward to California, Mexico, and the

District of Columbia.

Another little globe-trotter, so insignificant in size that one

is apt to overlook it until its surprisingly large blossom

appears in June or July, is the ONE-FLOWERED WINTERGREEN (Moneses

uniflora), found in cool northern woods, especially about the

roots of pines, in such yielding soil as will enable its long

stem to run just below the surface. ONE-FLOWERED PYROLA, it is

often called, although it belongs to a genus all its own. A

boldly curved stalk, like a miniature Bo-peep crook, enables the

solitary white or pink widely open flower to droop from the tip,

thus protecting its precious contents from rain, and from

crawling pilferers, to whom a pendent blossom is as inaccessible

as a hanging bird's nest is to snakes. This five-petalled waxen

flower, half an inch across or over, with its ten white,

yellow-tipped stamens, and green, club-shaped pistil projecting

from a conspicuous round ovary, never nods more than six inches

above the ground, often at only half that height. When there is

no longer need for the stalk to crook, that is to say, after the

flower has begun to fruit, it gradually straightens itself out so

that the little seed capsule, with the style and its five-lobed

stigma still persistent, is held erect. The thin, rounded, finely

notched leaves, measuring barely an inch in length, are clustered

in whorls next the ground. Whether one comes upon colonies of

this gregarious little plant, or upon a lonely straggler, the

"single delight" (moneses), as Dr. Gray called the solitary

flower, is one of the joys of a tramp through the summer woods.

CALOPOGON GRASS PINK CARDINAL FLOWER RED LOBELIA facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail