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

Orthilia secunda (L.) House
one-sided wintergreen (sidebells wintergreen)
Ericaceae (Crowberry family)
(Previously in Pyrolaceae)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Bryan Kelly-McArthur  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #66060)

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Distribution of Orthilia secunda
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Species Information

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Perennial, slightly woody herb from a rhizome, often forming colonies; stems usually single, 5-20 cm tall.
Evergreen, basal and stem leaves, often crowded towards base, egg-shaped to egg-shaped elliptic, 1.5-6 cm long, 1-2.5 (3) cm wide; round- to sharp-toothed or nearly entire, blunt to rounded at base, tips usually pointed; stalks 1-2 cm long.
Inflorescence a crowded 4- to 20-flowered one-sided raceme, arching, flowers radially symmetric, erect in bud, drooping in flower, 5-6 mm wide; flower stalks 2-8 mm long; bracts linear-lanceolate; petals 5, distinct, somewhat closed, 4-6 mm long, greenish or white, each with 2 small tubercles on the inner surface near the base; sepals 5, 0.5-1 (1.5) mm long, with jagged margins; stamens 10; filaments slender, about equaling the petals; anthers about 1.4 mm long, with terminal pores, tubes lacking; styles 3-4 mm long, exserted, straight or nearly so; stigmas 5-lobed.
Capsules, depressed globe-shaped, to 5 mm wide.
Two varieties occur in BC:

1. Racemes mostly more than 10-flowered; petals greenish yellow; leaves elliptic to egg-shaped, pointed, and lustrous .......................................... var. secunda

1. Racemes usually 4- to 10-flowered; petals creamy white; leaves circular, blunt, and hardly lustrous .......... .......................................... var. obtusata Turcz.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Dry to mesic forests in the lowland, montane, and subalpine zones; frequent in SC BC, common elsewhere in BC; circumboreal, N to AK, YT, and NT, E to NF and S to S CA, MX, SD, OH, and VA; Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Orthilia secunda

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) 515 515 515
Slope Gradient (%) 3 3 3
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
6 6 6
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: IDF(1)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant. submontane 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; its occurrence increases with increasing latitude and precipitation. Widespread in closed-canopy coniferous forests on water-shedding sites. Usually associated with Hylocomium splendens, Paxistima myrsinites, Rhytidiopsis robusta, Vaccinium alaskaense, V. membranaceum, and V. ovalifolium). An oxylophytic species characteristic of Mor 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.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Orthilia secunda subsp. obtusata (Turcz.) Böcher
Orthilia secunda var. obtusata (Turcz.) House
Pyrola secunda L.
Pyrola secunda subsp. obtusata (Turcz.) Hultén
Pyrola secunda var. obtusata Turcz.
Ramischia elatior Rydb.
Ramischia secunda (L.) Garcke

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References