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Pyrola elliptica – Shinleaf, White Wintergreen

Pyrola elliptica

Pyrola elliptica flower

Another native plant which has received Blue designation on the BC Species at Risk list is Pyrola elliptica – Shinleaf White Wintergreen.  Species, including any ecological community, categorized as Blue on this list are considered of special concern.

This evergreen perennial herb spreads via rhizomes and their feeding roots rely on a soil fungus for nutrient uptake. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) which makes the plant self-fertile, although it still relies on insects for pollination.   Loss and degradation of forest environments due to logging and development are the major threats to the plants’ survival.

Pyrola elliptica is a small plant with a cluster of waxy green leaves growing at ground level and a single flower bearing stem with clusters of white flowers veined pink or green.   The Pyrola group of plants produce a substance closely related to aspirin.  As a result the leaves have been used as a covering for bruises and wounds to help reduce pain, hence their common name ‘Shinleaf’.

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