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Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia
Pyrola elliptica Nutt.
Waxflower shinleaf, Shinleaf
Pyrolaceae (Wintergreen Family)
Synonym(s): Pyrola compacta
USDA Symbol: pyel
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
Greenish-white, waxy, fragrant flowers are in an elongated cluster on a stalk that rises above evergreen basal leaves. The nodding, white flowers of shinleaf occur on a 6-10 in. stalk and each has five petals; a long, curved style; and ten stamens with yellow anthers. Each stalk bears 3-21 flowers. The thick, basal, evergreen leaves are broadly oval and cluster in a rosette at ground level.
One of the most common of several species of Pyrola. Round-leaved Pyrola (P. americana), has leathery, roundish leaves. The Pyrolas yield a drug closely related to aspirin; the leaves have been used on bruises and wounds to reduce pain. Such a leaf plaster has been referred to as a shin plaster, which accounts for the common name of this plant.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Herb Flower:
Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug
, WY Canada: NB
, PE Native Distribution:
Nf. to B.C., s. to MD, WV, IN,
n. IL, SD
& NM Native Habitat:
Dry or moist woods
Growing ConditionsLight Requirement:
Shade Soil Moisture:
Dry , Moist Soil pH:
Acidic (pH<6.8) Soil Description:
Moist or dryish, humus-rich, acid soil. Conditions Comments:
Difficult to establish but one of the few eastern woodland plants to flower
in midsummer in deep shade. Good ground cover.
BenefitUse Medicinal: The Pyrolas contain a drug closely related to aspirin; the leaves have been used on bruises and wounds to reduce pain. Such a leaf plaster has been referred to as a shin plaster, which accounts for the common name of this plant. (Niering)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
PropagationDescription: Propagate by root cuttings or runner divisions stuck in acid peat. If young plants are containerized, they can be brought inside in Feb. or Mar. to hasten growth. Liberal additions of compost, adjusted to the proper acidity with peat or pine needles, ai
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: Not Available
Commercially Avail: yes
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
Record Last Modified: 2010-09-26
Research By: TWC Staff