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Serrated Wintergreen

Orthilia secunda

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Ericaceae (Heath)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
20 centimetres tall
Bogs, cliffs, gardens, heathland, rocky places, scrub, woodland.

White, 5 petals
Greenish-white, cup-shaped flowers in a one-sided spike. The flowers each measure 4 to 6mm in size. Flowers have a long, straight, protruding style. Pollinated by insects.
The fruit is a capsule.
The leaves are oval and evergreen. They form a basal rosette. Perennial.
Other Names:
One-sided Pyrola, One-sided Wintergreen, Sidebells Wintergreen, Yavering Bells.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Orthilia secunda, commonly known as one-sided pyrola or sidebells wintergreen, is a species of perennial herb in the heath family. It is native to North America, typically found in damp, shady areas such as woods and bogs. It has small, white, urn-shaped flowers that bloom in the summer and glossy, dark green, oval-shaped leaves. The plant is also used as an ornamental plant in gardens and it is also used in traditional medicine. It is known for its medicinal properties, specifically for its use in treating urinary tract infections, kidney disorders and as a diuretic.


Serrated Wintergreen (Orthilia secunda) is a flowering plant species that belongs to the Pyrolaceae family. It is native to North America and can be found growing in moist, coniferous forests and bogs. This plant is also commonly referred to as one-sided wintergreen and is often used for medicinal purposes.

Serrated wintergreen is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 20 cm in height. It has distinctive, dark green leaves with serrated edges and delicate, white flowers that bloom in late spring or early summer. The plant's leaves are very fragrant, with a sweet, wintergreen scent that is often used as an herbal remedy.

One of the most notable properties of serrated wintergreen is its high content of methyl salicylate, a compound that is also found in wintergreen oil. This compound is a natural pain reliever and anti-inflammatory agent, making it a popular ingredient in various over-the-counter pain relief products. In traditional medicine, the leaves of serrated wintergreen were often brewed into a tea to help relieve headache and joint pain, as well as soothe respiratory ailments like colds and flu.

In recent years, serrated wintergreen has also been studied for its potential as a natural cancer treatment. Some preliminary studies have shown that the plant's active compounds may have anti-tumor effects, although more research is needed to confirm these findings.

Despite its numerous potential health benefits, serrated wintergreen should not be consumed in large quantities, as it can be toxic if taken in excess. It is also not recommended for individuals who are taking blood-thinning medication or are allergic to salicylates.

Serrated wintergreen is a unique and interesting plant species that has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries. Although more research is needed to fully understand its potential health benefits, its historical use as a natural remedy suggests that it may be a valuable addition to any herbal medicine cabinet.

In addition to its medicinal properties, serrated wintergreen is also prized for its beauty. The plant's delicate white flowers and fragrant leaves make it a popular choice for wildflower gardens and woodland landscapes. It can also be grown in containers, making it a great choice for those who want to bring a touch of the forest into their home.

When planting serrated wintergreen, it is important to provide the plant with a moist, well-drained soil. This plant thrives in environments with high humidity and should be kept in partial shade. It is also important to avoid overwatering, as the plant does not tolerate standing water well.

In terms of maintenance, serrated wintergreen is a low-maintenance plant that does not require much pruning or grooming. However, it is important to keep the soil around the plant moist, especially during the dry summer months. A layer of mulch can also help to retain moisture and protect the plant's roots from drying out.

Overall, serrated wintergreen is a unique and fascinating plant that offers a wealth of potential health benefits, as well as adding beauty to any landscape or garden. Whether you are looking to use it for its medicinal properties or simply appreciate its aesthetic qualities, this plant is definitely worth considering.

Aside from its medicinal and ornamental uses, serrated wintergreen has also been used by various indigenous cultures in North America for its spiritual and cultural significance. The plant was often used in traditional ceremonies and was believed to have spiritual properties that could help to bring peace and harmony to the community.

In some cultures, serrated wintergreen was also used as a love charm, with the plant's fragrant leaves being used to create love potions and charms. This belief in the plant's romantic properties may have been linked to the plant's sweet scent and delicate, white flowers, which are said to symbolize love and purity.

Another interesting fact about serrated wintergreen is its hardiness. This plant is able to survive in extreme conditions and can often be found growing in areas that are difficult for other plants to thrive. This may be due to the plant's ability to store water and nutrients in its thick roots, which allow it to survive in harsh conditions.

In conclusion, serrated wintergreen is a fascinating plant species with a rich history of medicinal, cultural, and spiritual uses. Whether you are interested in its potential health benefits, its beauty, or its cultural significance, this plant is definitely worth learning more about. So, next time you come across this unique evergreen shrub, take a moment to appreciate its beauty and all that it has to offer.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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