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Round-leaved Wintergreen

Pyrola rotundifolia

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Ericaceae (Heath)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
20 centimetres tall
Bogs, fens, gardens, heathland, mountains, sand dunes, scrub, swamps, woodland.

White, 5 petals
Drooping saucer-shaped flowers with 5 white petals. Oranged-tipped anthers are creamy in colour. The protruding pinkish-red style is almost always curved. Common Wintergreen has a much shorter and straighter style, making it easily distinguishable.
The fruit of the Round-leaved Wintergreen is a 5-lobed capsule that matures slowly. Upon reaching maturity, the capsules split open, releasing tiny seeds.
The glossy, leathery leaves form a basal rosette. They are roughly circular in shape and are stalked. The leaves are overwintering, hence the name Wintergreen. The leaves have toothless margins, or sometimes rounded teeth.
The fragrance of the Round-leaved Wintergreen flowers is characterized by a delicate and subtle aroma. The blooms emit a gentle, sweet scent that wafts through the air, creating a pleasant and inviting atmosphere in its woodland habitat. The fragrance, while not overpowering, adds to the overall sensory experience of encountering this charming plant. It is often appreciated by those who take the time to explore the natural settings where Round-leaved Wintergreen thrives, enhancing the allure of its presence in the forest understory.
Other Names:
Canker Leek, Canker Lettuce, False Wintergreen, Larger Wintergreen, Liverwort Lettuce, Pear-leaved Wintergreen, Round-leaved Pyrola, Round-leaved Shinleaf, Wild Lily-of-the-Valley.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Pyrola rotundifolia, commonly known as round-leaved pyrola or round-leaved shinleaf, is a species of perennial herb in the heath family. It is native to North America and Europe, typically found in moist, shady areas such as woods and bogs. It has small, white, bell-shaped flowers that bloom in the summer and glossy, dark green, round leaves. The leaves and root of the plant have been used medicinally by indigenous peoples and in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments. The plant is also used as an ornamental plant in gardens.


Round-leaved Wintergreen, Pyrola rotundifolia, is a small, evergreen plant that is commonly found in northern and boreal forests. It is a member of the Pyrolaceae family and is known for its delicate and attractive appearance, as well as its many medicinal properties.

This plant has small, round leaves that are dark green in color and are covered in a shiny wax. The leaves are arranged in a rosette pattern and are up to 1 inch in diameter. In the summer, the plant produces delicate, white, bell-shaped flowers that grow on short stalks. The flowers are arranged in clusters and are pollinated by bees, butterflies, and other insects.

Round-leaved Wintergreen is a hardy plant that is well adapted to growing in shady, moist areas. It is often found in forests, along streams and rivers, and in areas with rich, organic soils. The plant is also found in bogs, where it is able to tolerate the high levels of moisture and acidity.

One of the most notable features of Round-leaved Wintergreen is its strong medicinal properties. The plant contains a variety of compounds, including tannins, alkaloids, and essential oils, that have been used for centuries to treat a variety of health conditions. The leaves, roots, and stems of the plant have been used to make teas and tinctures that are used to treat conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism, and digestive problems.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Round-leaved Wintergreen is also a popular ornamental plant. Its small size and attractive appearance make it a good choice for rock gardens, woodland gardens, and for use in mixed borders. The plant is easy to care for and does well in moist, well-drained soils.

Round-leaved Wintergreen is a beautiful and versatile plant that is well worth adding to your garden. Its delicate appearance and numerous medicinal properties make it a great choice for both ornamental and practical purposes. Whether you are looking to add a touch of beauty to your garden or are interested in using this plant for its medicinal properties, Round-leaved Wintergreen is definitely worth considering.

Round-leaved Wintergreen is also known for its high levels of antioxidants. These compounds help to protect the body from free radicals and oxidative stress, which are known to contribute to a range of health problems, including heart disease, cancer, and other chronic conditions.

In traditional medicine, Round-leaved Wintergreen was used to treat a range of conditions, including headaches, toothaches, and menstrual cramps. It was also used as a mild sedative and was believed to have a calming effect on the nervous system.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Round-leaved Wintergreen is also an important food source for wildlife. The leaves and stems of the plant are eaten by a variety of animals, including deer, rabbits, and moose. The plant is also a valuable source of nectar for bees and other insects, which is important for the pollination of other plants.

When it comes to growing Round-leaved Wintergreen, the plant is relatively low maintenance and is easy to care for. It prefers moist, well-drained soils and is best grown in partial shade. It is also tolerant of a wide range of soils, including those that are acidic, and can be grown in both rocky and sandy soils.

Round-leaved Wintergreen is also very hardy and is resistant to many pests and diseases. It is a slow-growing plant, but once established, it can live for many years and will continue to produce beautiful white flowers year after year.

Round-leaved Wintergreen is a valuable and versatile plant that is well worth considering for your garden. Whether you are interested in its medicinal properties, its ornamental value, or its role as a food source for wildlife, this plant is sure to add beauty and value to any garden.

Round-leaved Wintergreen is a plant that is native to North America and is commonly found in Canada and the northern United States. It is also found in some parts of Europe and Asia and is considered a threatened species in some countries.

The plant has a long history of use by indigenous people, who used it for medicinal and ceremonial purposes. In addition to its medicinal properties, the plant was also used as a source of food and was often used as a seasoning for other foods.

Round-leaved Wintergreen is an evergreen plant that is well suited to growing in shaded areas and is often found in the understory of forests. It is a slow-growing plant, but once established, it can live for many years and will continue to produce beautiful white flowers year after year.

When it comes to cultivation, Round-leaved Wintergreen is a very hardy plant that is resistant to pests and diseases. It is best grown in moist, well-drained soils and is tolerant of a wide range of soils, including those that are acidic. The plant is also very low maintenance and requires very little care once established.

30 Wonderful Round-leaved Wintergreen Facts

  1. Scientific Name: Round-leaved Wintergreen is scientifically known as Pyrola rotundifolia.
  2. Habitat: It typically thrives in coniferous and mixed woodlands, preferring acidic and well-drained soils.
  3. Range: This plant is native to northern parts of North America, Europe, and Asia.
  4. Evergreen Leaves: As the name suggests, the plant has round, glossy, and evergreen leaves.
  5. Flowering Season: Round-leaved Wintergreen produces delicate, nodding, white or pinkish flowers in late spring to early summer.
  6. Height: It usually grows to a height of 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm).
  7. Rhizomes: The plant often spreads through rhizomes, creating colonies in the forest floor.
  8. Symbolic Importance: In some cultures, Round-leaved Wintergreen symbolizes luck and protection.
  9. Edibility: The leaves of this plant are edible and have been used in traditional medicine and as a mild tea.
  10. Myrmecochory: The seeds of Round-leaved Wintergreen are dispersed by ants through a process called myrmecochory.
  11. Wildlife Habitat: The plant provides habitat and food for various insects, including bees and butterflies.
  12. Shade Tolerance: It is well-adapted to shade and can often be found in the understory of forests.
  13. Slow Growth: Round-leaved Wintergreen has a slow growth rate, taking several years to reach maturity.
  14. Hydrophobic Leaves: The leaves have a waxy coating that makes them hydrophobic, shedding water easily.
  15. Medicinal Uses: Some indigenous communities have used Round-leaved Wintergreen for its medicinal properties, such as pain relief.
  16. Symbol of Resilience: Being evergreen, it symbolizes resilience in harsh winter conditions.
  17. Fungi Relationship: It forms mycorrhizal associations with fungi, aiding in nutrient absorption.
  18. Seed Production: The plant produces tiny capsules that release seeds for reproduction.
  19. Floral Structure: The flowers have a distinct five-lobed structure and a pleasant fragrance.
  20. Pollination: Round-leaved Wintergreen relies on insects, especially bees, for pollination.
  21. Folklore: In some cultures, the plant has folklore associated with protection against evil spirits.
  22. Leaf Arrangement: The leaves are arranged in a basal rosette, forming a distinctive circular pattern.
  23. Fruit Development: The fruit capsules mature slowly, and the seeds are dispersed when the capsules split open.
  24. Adaptation to Cold Climates: Round-leaved Wintergreen is adapted to cold climates, thriving in regions with extended winter seasons.
  25. Wildflower Gardens: It can be a charming addition to wildflower gardens, provided the right conditions are met.
  26. Conservation Status: In some areas, Round-leaved Wintergreen is considered a species of special concern due to habitat loss.
  27. Landscape Use: It is sometimes used in landscaping for its evergreen foliage and low maintenance requirements.
  28. Leaf Veins: The leaves have prominent veins, contributing to their distinctive appearance.
  29. Ethnobotanical Importance: Indigenous communities have historically used various parts of the plant for traditional purposes.
  30. Biodiversity Support: Round-leaved Wintergreen contributes to forest biodiversity by providing habitat and supporting diverse ecosystems.


Round-leaved Wintergreen filmed at Sandscale Haws National Nature Reserve on the 8th July 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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