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Pyrola Elliptica – Shinleaf, White Wintergreen

Pyrola elliptica

Pyrola elliptica flower

Another native plant which has received a Blue designation on the BC ‘Species at Risk’ list is Pyrola Elliptica or 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 relies on insects for pollination.   Loss and degradation of forest environments, due to logging and development, are the major threats to the plant’s 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 medicinally as a covering for bruises and wounds to help reduce pain, hence their common name ‘Shinleaf.’

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