Pyrola asarifolia : Pink Wintergreen


Scientific Name:

Kingdom: Plantae


Class: Dicoteldonae (two seed-leaves)

Family: Pyrolaceae (Wintergreen Family)

Genera: Pyrola (Wintergreen) (Gk. Pyrus = a pear tree, reffering to the resemblence of the leaves to those of a pear)

Species: asarifolia (Lat. asarum= hazelnut + folium= leaf; referring to the similar leaves of Asarum europaeum)

Synonym(s): P. rotundifolia var. asarifolia

English Name(s):

Pink Wintergreen, Pink-flowered Wintergreen, Alpine Pyrola, Shinleaf

First Nation Names:




  • Basal, on long 2-9cm long, petiole (stalk).
  • Blades, leathery, 2-8cm long, cordate-orbicular to somewhat reniform (kidney shaped).
  • Green above and ofter purplish beneath.

Reproductive Parts:

  • Infloresence (flower clusters) 8-10 flowered racemes (flowering stalk).
  • Petals pale pink to crimson, 5-7mm long.
  • Sepals lanceolate to deltoid in shape, 3-8mm long.
  • Styles (female parts), curved, with a ring below the stigma (top part), 5-10mm long when mature.
  • Anthers crimson to pale pink.


  • Fruit a many seeded capsule

Not to Be Confused With:

  • All the other Pyrola (Wintergreen) species have yellow anthers (male parts).



  • Wintergreens grow very few feeding roots along their rhizomes (underground stems). They depend on myhorrhizal (root) fungi to get enough nutrients.

Life Cycle:

  • Perennial

Seasonal Cycle:

  • Evergreen
  • Blooms in June


Animal Uses:


  • Damp rich woods and thickets to alpine meadows





  • All Pyrolas contain a drug related to aspirin.
  • Fresh leaves are moistened and used as an effective counter-irritant, left on for a half an hour or longer.
  • Leaves are made into a decoction using 6ml chopped leaves boiled 20 minutes. This is said to stimulate urine flow with little irritation of the intestinal lining. Can be used for extended periods.


    Traditional Gwich'in:





            Traditional Other:


            • In astrology, Pyrolas are said to be under the influence of the Moon.



              • Leaves mixed with red wine and a little cinnamon then heated to make a decoction, were said to cure bloody stools, ulcers of the bladder, and to restrain menstruation.
              • Plant juice was taken with wine to stop bleeding of the bowels, internal wounds, and ulcers.
              • Plants were said to be astringent and antisposmatic, to increase urine flow and to act as a tonic.
              • Plants were used as an astringent, to promote persperation and to relieve pain in treating deseases of the breast, colds, wounds, blisters, inflamation of the eyes, bad body fluids, and weak nerves.
              • The decoction was taken for treating skin diseases, teberculosis of the lymph glands, epilepsy and other nervous affections, was used as a gargle , and as a wash for inflammed eyes.
              • Leaves were used for skin plasters to relieve pain, reduce swelling and heal wounds and bruises.
              • Plant decoctions are considered excellent wound healers.



                Numerous plants in bloom

                Pink flowers

                Pink flower

                More pink flowers with long curved styles

                A leaf

                Illustration from: Illustrated Flora of BC

                Range Maps

                World Range: East Asia and Boreal N.A.; in N.A. from NL to AK, south to NH, MN, NM, and OR.

                Prov/State Abrev. List

                In Yukon: frequent north to Ogilvie Mountains, disjunct to the Firth River valley.

                To Top Of Page