E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Listera cordata (L.) R. Br.
heart-leaved twayblade (heartleaf twayblade)
Orchidaceae (Orchid family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Rod Innes  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #6654)

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Distribution of Listera cordata
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from slender rhizomes, with fibrous roots; stems 7-25 cm tall, with 2 leaves, smooth or slightly hairy above.
Two, usually below middle of stem, opposite, broadly egg- to kidney-shaped, 1-4 cm long, 1-4 cm wide, smooth, heart-shaped at base, abruptly pointed at tip.
Inflorescence a few- to several-flowered, terminal raceme, the flowers yellowish-green to pur plish or maroon; sepals 2-3 mm long, egg-shaped; petals similar to sepals, 1.5-2.5 mm long; lip 3-6 mm long, linear to oblong, deeply cleft into 2 linear-lanceolate lobes, with 2 awl-like teeth at base; column 0.5-1.5 mm long.
Capsules, spreading, egg-shaped, 4-6 mm long.
Some authors have recognized two varieties, the northwest cordilleran var. nephrophylla and the widespread, circumboreal var. cordata, based on leaf size and flower colour and size. But we concur with Calder & Taylor (1968) that there is significant overlap in these characters and in the range of the forms, thus distinct taxa are not warranted.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Moist forests, bogs and thickets in the lowland to subalpine zones; common throughout BC, except infrequent north of 56 degrees N; circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to ME, MA, PA, NC, MI, WI, MN, NM, UT, NV and CA; Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Listera cordata

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 0 943 2500
Slope Gradient (%) 0 22 350
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 350 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 4 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BWBS(88), CDF(2), CWH(1497), ESSF(1399), ICH(536), IDF(20), MH(213), MS(151), SBPS(17), SBS(625), SWB(18)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant/intolerant, montane to subalpine, circumpolar forb (transcontinen­tal in North America). Occurs on moderately dry to fresh, nitrogen-poor soils within boreal, cool temperate, and cool mesothermal climates. Common in coniferous forests on water­shedding and water-receiving sites: often grows with Listera caurina, Gaultheria shallon, Hylacamium splendens, Rhytidiadelphus lareus, and Vaccinium parvifalium. An oxylophytic species characteristic of Mar humus forms.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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General References