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One-flowered Wintergreen Blossoming

7-14-15  one-flowered wintergreen  249A walk in cool, moist woodlands this time of year may reward you with the sight (and smell) of One-flowered Wintergreen in bloom. The three- to six-inch-tall nodding flower has five waxy petals with rounded tips and wavy edges. Its true beauty can only be appreciated if you get down on your hands and knees and look underneath these petals. At this angle and close range, you not only can see the ten stamens and five-lobed stigma, but you can detect the flower’s delightful fragrance, which is very similar to that of Lily-of-the-Valley.

One-flowered Wintergreen’s blossom remains viable, without withering, for up to six weeks. After the flower is pollinated, the developing capsule becomes erect. Along with orchids, wintergreen seeds are the smallest in the plant kingdom – a single seed weighs around two-millionths of a gram. One-flowered Wintergreen is in the Heath family, which also includes rhododendrons, mountain laurel, azaleas, blueberries and cranberries.

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16 responses

  1. Diane

    So beautiful.

    July 16, 2015 at 8:44 am

  2. Tom Libby

    What do the leaves look like. Is this evergreen?

    July 16, 2015 at 10:27 am

    • Yes, it’s evergreen, and its leaves are the ones you see in the photo, though not very well. They are small (1″-2″) in diameter and roundish.

      July 16, 2015 at 2:28 pm

  3. Dianne Rochford

    A magnificent photo:-) What a contrast to the young skunk spray!! Naturally yours, Dianne >

    July 16, 2015 at 2:12 pm

  4. Lovely photo! I had thought One-flowered Wintergreen belonged to the Wintergreen family (Pyrolaceae)?

    July 16, 2015 at 9:03 pm

    • You’re right, Wendy, it used to be in Pyrolaceae, but has been switched to Ericaceae. Not sure when this happened.

      July 17, 2015 at 7:59 am

      • Interesting–thanks!

        July 17, 2015 at 8:02 am

  5. Mimi

    What is the scientific name of this beautiful plant? Thanks, Mimi

    July 17, 2015 at 11:56 am

    • Moneses uniflora. It is the only species in the Moneses genus! I usually put the genus and species under “tags” – scroll down beneath photo — but I’ve been trying to remember to put it in the text of the post. Thanks for the reminder!

      July 17, 2015 at 12:28 pm

      • Mimi

        Thank you – I see it now – was not familiar with this species.

        July 17, 2015 at 3:01 pm

  6. joan waltermire

    I wonder if tiny Moneses seeds are packaged with their own mycorrhizal partner… I know the Ericaceae were known even back in the day for being dependent on their mycorrhizae, so maybe, like orchids, the success of these tiny seeds is related to having fungal partners travel with them. Any opinions, or better yet, actual information out there?

    July 17, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    • Fascinating, Joan. I bet anything you’re right about the mycorrhizae.

      July 18, 2015 at 10:43 am

  7. Annie Hale

    Mary, Loved the One Flowered Wintergreen photo!!!!! I would so love to find a real one and experience the smell and the plant. Do they grow in Massachusetts. Or Blue Hill Maine? We’ll be in Brooksville in a few week, walking in the woods. Thanks.

    July 18, 2015 at 7:22 am

    • Yes, they are definitely in Massachusetts, Annie. Moist, coniferous woods are your best bet, but they grow elsewhere, as well.

      July 18, 2015 at 10:43 am

  8. Irma Graf

    Incredibly beautiful photo, Mary.

    July 20, 2015 at 8:00 pm

  9. Thank you so much, Irma. In order to take the photograph from that angle, I got to meet several ticks…

    July 21, 2015 at 8:58 am

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