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

Pyrola elliptica Nutt.
white wintergreen (shinleaf; waxflower shinleaf)
Ericaceae (Crowberry family)
(Previously in Pyrolaceae)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Crispin Guppy  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #17669)

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Distribution of Pyrola elliptica
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from a spreading, slender rhizome; flowering stems 15-25 cm tall, with many basal leaves.
Basal, evergreen, somewhat leathery, the blades broadly elliptic to oblong or egg-shaped, mostly 3.5-7 cm long and about 3/4 as wide, fine-toothed, thin, and dull; stalks rarely as long as blades.
Inflorescence a 2- to 20-flowered terminal, cylindric raceme, the flowers weakly bilaterally symmetric, 10-12 mm wide; flower stalks 3-8 mm long, nearly equaled by the linear-lanceolate bracts; petals white or creamy, rarely pink-tinged, egg-shaped, spreading, 6-8 mm long; sepals longer than wide, triangular to egg-shaped, tips usually sharp-pointed and somewhat bent back; tubes of anthers short, usually somewhat bent back; styles declined, curved, 5-7 mm long, with a distinct collar below the stigma.
Capsules, depressed globe-shaped, 4-5 mm wide.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Dry to moist forests in the montane zone; rare in SW and C BC; E to NF, and S to NM, SD, and PA; Japan.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Pyrola elliptica

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) 385 873 1425
Slope Gradient (%) 0 12 48
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
20 38 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
3 4 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: BWBS(11), ESSF(1), ICH(3), IDF(2), MS(2), SBS(2)


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 montane boreal & cool temperate.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Pyrola compacta Jennings

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References