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

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Crispin Guppy     (Photo ID #17669)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Pyrola elliptica
Click here to view the full interactive map and legend

Species Information

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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.


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)
873 385 1425
Slope Gradient (%)
12 0 48

Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]

38 20 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
4 3 6
Modal Nutrient Regime
# 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)

Habitat and 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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Pyrola compacta Jennings