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Photo: Lesser Wintergreen

Pyrola minor (L.)

Lesser Wintergreen

Habitat: Moist woods. [Conifer forest (forest, upland)]

Range: Circumboreal. South to the higher mountains of New England and northern Michigan.

Photo: Lesser Wintergreen

Aids to Identification: This small wintergreen grows to a height of only 5-15 cm. Like other members of the genus Pyrola, this herb has no true stem, but rather a flower stalk upon which grows a raceme of white flowers. Lesser wintergreen can be distinguished from closely related species by two characteristics: the flowers grow on all sides of the stalk, rather than just being one-sided; and the style of each flower is straight and does not protrude beyond the end of the petals. The nearly basal leaves of P. minor are round-oblong and 2-4 cm long.

Photo: Lesser Wintergreen

Ecological characteristics: In Maine, this plant is found in cool, moist woods, usually near streams or riverbanks.

Phenology: Flowers June - August.

Family: Ericaceae

Synonyms: Formerly known as Braxilia minor (L.) House and Pyrola minor var. parviflora Boivin.

Known Distribution in Maine: This rare plant has been documented from a total of 7 town(s) in the following county(ies): Aroostook, Franklin, Piscataquis, Somerset

Dates of documented observations are: 1946, 1999 (4), 2000 (2), 2001 (4)

Reason(s) for rarity: At southern limit of range.

Conservation considerations: Unknown. Complete canopy removal would more likely harm the populations than would partial canopy removal.