Common Wintergreen; Pyrola minor

Back before digital photography, before the internet before www. and such like I used to photograph wild flowers and write some ‘words of wisdom’ ? about them. We lived in Spain for three years in the late 1970’s and during that time I built up a collection of wild flowers of Northern Spain photos along with my comments.  I still have all the photos and hand written comments, back then I wrote them and put them in a loose leaf file and no one ever saw them or read what I wrote. Now thanks to web sites and Face book and such like a wider audience is possible so what I write today will get seen by others and maybe help them with their identification and understanding of our wild flowers.  Whilst living in Spain I once saw a Wintergreen and until recently I think that is the only time I have seen one.

These photographs were taken in the Moray area of Scotland by  a member of the British Wild flower Face Book group called Ian Green and he has kindly given me permission to use his photographs. As You can see he is blessed with hundreds, probably thousands growing in a small wood close to where he lives.

There are several species of Wintergreen, none of them have terribly inspiring names, there is the Common Wintergreen, Intermediate Wintergreen, Round-leaved Wintergreen, Serrated Wintergreen  and One flowered Wintergreen. The ones I saw in Spain back in the 1970’s I identified as the One flowered Wintergreen and  here is a copy of the page and photo I took all those years ago.


w.t.t. Ian Green

All  the Wintergreen species are relatively unusual and most are restricted to growing in the north of England and Scotland. Common Wintergreen is as you would expect the most widespread and it is found in a few southern locations, including along the southern parts of the English, Welsh border, ie the Wye valley. My researches have found that it has been fairly recently recorded as growing near the base of the 365 steps at the ‘Eagles Nest view point’ just south of Tintern.  I have had a good look round this area but have not seen any yet. My endeavors were not without reward because I did find some Wood Vetch which is another rarity and quite beautiful.

Common Wintergreen flowers between June and August and is the only one which has a slight hint of pink colour, all the others are white with yellow stamens in the centre and a prominent stigma sticking out through them.  All species are found in woodlands particularly Pine , but some like Round-leaved Wintergreen are also found in dune slacks.

The photographs below are of Round-leaved Wintergreen and these were growing in dune lacks but restricted to more shady areas close to where sallow bushes had colonised.

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