Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for American Wintergreen - Pyrola americana   Sweet
Members of Ericaceae:
Members of Pyrola with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Ericales » Family Ericaceae
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DistributionNearly throughout the northern half of the Piedmont, and the northern Mountains. An isolated record from Bladen County, in the southern Coastal Plain.

This is a Northern species ranging across southeastern Canada, south to central NC, but scarce farther west; ranges west only to extreme northeastern TN and central OH.
AbundanceRare to uncommon, with abundance decreasing southward. That is, uncommon in VA border counties, but quite rare in counties not bordering VA. It is on the NC NHP Watch List.
HabitatThis species at times grows with one or both of the Chimaphila species, in fairly dry, upland hardwood or pine forests. The soils are typically acidic, as well; it does not normally grow in rich soils.
See also Habitat Account for General Forests
PhenologyBlooms mainly in May and June, perhaps into July in the mountains; fruits from July to October.
IdentificationThis is an evergreen subshrub, with several basal leaves and a single flowering stalk growing to an average of 10 inches tall. The leaves are dark green and leathery, rotund/rounded, entire on the margins, and about 2-3 inches long and across. The stalk contains 5-15 dangling small white flowers, each about 2/5-inch across. Though quite striking when in bloom, sadly flowering individuals are very difficult to encounter; the species is rather rare in the state, and because the leaves are evergreen and thus visible all year, a person is likely to find the species with the basal leaves only, or a fruiting stalk. Though the leaves are quite distinct, some people may overlook the species as Galax aphylla, which has leaves that are scalloped and not entire.
Taxonomic CommentsRAB (1968) and other older references considered this taxon as Pyrola rotundifolia var. americana. However, the species has been named as Pyrola americana for many decades now.

Other Common Name(s)Rounded Shinleaf, American Shinleaf, Round-leaved Pyrola
State RankS2S3
Global RankG5
State StatusW1
US Status
USACE-agcpFACU link
USACE-empFAC link
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