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Botany Photo of the Day
In science, beauty. In beauty, science. Daily.

Linnaea borealis

Linnaea borealis

Commonly (and aptly) named twinflower, this is one of my favourite plants. For me, it provokes memories of when I started to learn about botany and plant names, as it was one of my early “discoveries” in the woods near my home.

As I mentioned in a previous entry, the epithet borealis refers to “of the north”, and fittingly, this is a plant of the boreal forests of the northern hemisphere. The genus name, Linnaea, refers to the scientist Carolus Linnaeus, the “Father of Modern Taxonomy”.

Twinflower is a small shrublet, reaching perhaps 15cm (6in.) in height. The stems creep along the ground of coniferous forests, creating small mats of evergreen leaves awash in pink when in flower. I've only noticed it in soils with seeping near-surface water, but it apparently can also grow in sites that are quite dry.

A couple words I'd use to describe this plant are dainty and subtle. Tomorrow's photograph will feature a plant in the same family that is anything but dainty or subtle.

Update (June 15, 2005 12:02 AM PST): While reviewing the relationships between the various members of the honeysuckle family (to which I thought Linnaea still belonged), I see that Linnaea is now a member of a family named after it: the Linnaeaceae. So, the picture for June 15 still features a relative, but a more distant one perhaps than originally suggested.

32 Comments

Albert Schroeder commented:

Very nice picture.

Quentin Cronk commented:

It is worth recalling that Linnaeus said of this plant:

"The genus Linnaea was named by the famous Gronovius and is a Lapland plant, humble, insignificant and disregarded, flowering but for a brief time, from Linnaeus who resembles it."

A masterly bit of tongue-in-cheek irony.

anonymous commented:

Nice Pic!!!

Meg Brizzolara commented:

Be nice to know what states this flower is common to. A gem!

Daniel Mosquin commented:

Hi Meg,

Sure - check out Linnaea borealis from the USDA Plants Database. I think the plant becomes less common southwards, to the point where it is actually endangered in the state of Connecticut. It is quite common in Canada, though.

amanda commented:

Nice flower and photo! Thanks for adding the interesting links from those of whom responded to this posting!! Thank you to all for sharing!! I new and I'm enjoying this listing.

dadang jm commented:

woderfull and beautiful pic...!!

Pupathy commented:

One more nice looking but informatic pic!

pooja commented:

one of the most beautiful flowers I love

Judie commented:

It reminds of fairyies hats and that is what I told my grandchildren they where so every time they see them they wait for the wind 2 blow so they can see them fly.

kisha commented:

This is a very nice photo.

Karen Marks commented:

I'm brand new to this site. How beautiful to find. I am wondering if there is a way to go back to view past dates, stumbled onto the June l2 picture when I found this site and would like to see it again special interest in the Lavender background flower which I recently saw used on the City Gardner.

glenn commented:

beautifil picture
I live in Mississippi and am sorry we cant have them here
Keep up the good work!

Daniel Mosquin commented:

Thank you everyone for your comments.

Karen, you can use the links above the photo (on either side of “main”to scroll through day by day.

You can also click on “main” or the title “Botany Photo of the Day” to go to a page that shows the most recent seven. That page, Botany Photo of the Day also has category and monthly listings in the right-hand column.

Pat commented:

This is the best yahoo feature evver!! I'm telling all my herbalist and flower essence colleagues about it. It's EXACTLY what I want to see each day before working with plant medicine in my practice. Thank You!

larry commented:

THANK YOU FOR A BEAUTIFUL SITE I LOOK FORWARD TO EACH DAY

Deb commented:

I just happened to see a flash of todays plant.I had to back track and find the site. Its' wonderful. You can really identify the plants well. Thank you.

ayh_tn commented:

tim mat khau

ruth henry commented:

where could you be able to get one of these plants,
Ruth Henry

Daniel Mosquin commented:

Ruth, it depends on what part of the world you live in - locally, there are a number of native plant nurseries that sell them. For my garden at home, we purchased it from UBC's Shop in the Garden.

Gunnar Lofstrand commented:

I just learnt from your site that Linnaea borealis grows in the US. It is a characteristic, much loved, plant in Swedish forests and the "province flower" of Smaaland, Linnaeus' own province. On the Linnaeus site of the Swedish Museum of Natural History I found this map of where the various subspecies can be found in the Northern Hemisphere.

Eula Walker commented:

Very unusual, sweet flower, thanks for sharing!

Bobbie commented:

I just learned that our newest GREAT-GRANDDAUGHTER in Montana has been named Linnea after this beautiful flower.

Carol commented:

Great pics, Daniel! I read the article in the Post, and I've seen you're holiday photos! Makes me homesick but such gorgeous pictures!

Linnaea Rose Newman commented:

As a namesake of this flower, I am happy to have seen large amounts of it in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Washington State, and in Alberta, Canada. The places I've seen it makes me wonder if it is unusually sensitive to pollution or soil disturbance. In the U.S. it is protected, and I am not aware of any commercial source of it.

Daniel Mosquin commented:

It is available from native plant nurseries locally. I don't think it likes disturbed soils, though I've seen it in places where it stabilizes banks of wet shady soil.

Lynnea commented:

Although I heard of the flower when I was quite young, I have never had the opportunity to see one other than in a picture.

Clair Bel-Maguire commented:

Ouir daughter, Linnae will be eighteen soon. We would like to get her as a birthday present this beautiful plant but cannot find a supplier anywhere. We live in Ireland. Can anyone help please?

Daniel Mosquin commented:

Clair, the best place to ask those questions would be the forums (see link just above the “Post a Comment” title). There is a sourcing plants forum.

rita commented:

anyone knows where to buy plants of seeds of the linneae borealis?

Nancy commented:

While Linnaea borealis is most commonly regarded as circumboreal, it is found at increasingly higher elevations as you go south. Here in Colorado we typically see it at around 10-12,000 feet on shady, moist, north-facing slopes. Our daughter is also named for this flower - Linnaea, not Linnea. The latter is a Swedish girl's name that denotes the linden tree.

Marilyn Ransberry commented:

Our granddaughter is named for this flower Linnea (simplified for her ) and I would like to get seeds for favours for a baby shower in late May. I live in Canada. Can anyone help?
PS I was unaware of this flower till now- it's beautiful!

Comments are closed.

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