An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Shinleaf Flowering

6-6-16  shinleaf 318The evergreen perennial Shinleaf (Pyrola elliptica) is often only noticed at this time of year, when it is flowering.  The flower is distinctive in that the prominent style of the female pistil is proportionally far longer than in most flowers, and extends beyond the waxy, white petals. The common name — Shinleaf — is a reference to the medicinal properties of the plant. It contains a drug closely related to aspirin; the leaves reportedly have analgesic properties and were used as a poultice on bruised shins and other sores and wounds.

There are several species of pyrolas and they vary in leaf shape and flower color/arrangement.  All of them belong to the family Ericaceae, which includes blueberries and cranberries.

Look for this four to twelve-inch plant in shady, damp woods and when you find one, peer up under the petals to see the orange-tipped male stamens.

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6 responses

  1. Jane Swift

    Whenever I am hiking and come upon the beautiful shinleaf, I urge my companions to get down on all fours to smell a most intoxicating fragrance emanating from the flowers.

    July 6, 2016 at 8:10 am

    • I meant to mention its fragrance, but forgot! Thanks, Jane.

      July 6, 2016 at 8:40 am

  2. BR

    I’m so excited. I just bought your book Naturally Curious for my daughter who is turning 40 in Aug. Will give it to her at a family gathering this weekend. Then will get your new book for her Aug birthday. I forward your email to her when I know it is something we’ve shared or she is interested. The book just arrived and is beautiful. thank you! Bern

    July 6, 2016 at 8:27 am

    • Afraid Naturally Curious Day by Day won’t be out by August for your daughter’s birthday, but you should be able to give it to her for Christmas! Thanks so much for your patronage!

      July 6, 2016 at 8:41 am

  3. We have a lot of these in our woods. The flowers have a sweet scent. Thanks for all the great info about them, Mary!

    July 6, 2016 at 10:09 pm

  4. Laurie Spry

    Thank you! I just saw this earlier this week and noticed the blueberry-like flower shape.

    July 7, 2016 at 8:57 am

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