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Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's rare plants, contact:
Kevin Doyle
608-416-3377

Lesser Wintergreen (Pyrola minor)

Life history

Species overview

Lesser Wintergreen (Pyrola minor), a Wisconsin Endangered plant, is found in acidic, conifer swamps dominated by black spruce, tag alder, tamarack, and balsam fir, often in areas with heavy Sphagnum moss cover. Blooming occurs late June through early August; fruiting occurs late June early September. The optimal identification period for this species is late June through late July.

Synonyms: Braxilia minor, Erxlebenia minor, Pyrola minor var. parviflora

Identification

  • Distinguishing characteristics: Style not extending beyond the flower during the flowering period; raceme arranged on one side of the axis only.
  • Flower characteristics: Loose, terminal raceme of 5 to 15 nodding white flowers; petals 5, 5 mm; anthers very plump, 1 mm or less.
  • Fruit characteristics: Capsule 5-valved.
  • Leaf characteristics: Leaves nearly basal, elliptic or round-oblong, 2 to 4 cm, rounded to truncate at both ends.

Phenology

  • Blooming phenology: late June through early August
  • Fruiting phenology: late June early September
  • Optimum time to identify: late June through late July

Other

  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction: Rhizomatous
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Alnus rugosa, Larix laricina, Picea mariana, Viola nephrophylla, Calamagrostis canadensis, , Lycopus uniflorus, Glyceria canadensis, Carex stricta, Smilacina trifolia, Pyrola elliptica, P. secunda, Sphagnum spp., Ledum groenlandicum.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Lesser Wintergreen (Pyrola minor). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Pyrola minor in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.


Summary Information
State StatusEND
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in acidic, conifer swamps dominated by black spruce, tag alder, tamarack, and balsam fir, often in areas with heavy Sphagnum moss cover.
  • Soils: Moist to wet soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Lesser Wintergreen. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Northern Tamarack Swamp 3
Alder Thicket 3

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Lesser Wintergreen. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Lesser Wintergreen (Pyrola minor) has very few known occurrences in the state and is of the highest priority for conservation; we encourage you to consult with your District Ecologist or NHI Botanist for specific recommendations for your site.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • Avoid site preparation that heavily disturbs herbaceous ground layer and soil; these include bulldozing and furrowing, as well as grubbing and stump removal.
  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Maintain high forest canopy cover; this species requires shaded habitat conditions.
  • Minimize disturbance to hydrology, including soil disturbance from rutting.
  • Avoid rapid and dramatic reductions in canopy cover or basal area in wet areas to reduce risk of swamping.

Photos


Lesser Wintergreen  Photo.

Photo © Jim McEvoy.


Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Monday, April 30, 2018
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