Linnaea borealis - Twinflower


Medicinal Uses


Linnaea americana Forbes [E-flora]
Linnaea borealis var. americana (Forbes) Rehder [E-flora]
General Creeping.[IFBC][E-flora] Slender but woody.[Hitchcock&cronquist] Short (less than 10cm tall), from long runners.[PCBC2004]
Lifecycle Evergreen.[IFBC][E-flora] Perennial.[WildPNW]
Flowers Pink to whitish. Inflorescence of nodding pairs of flowers on slender, erect, Y-shaped stalks[IFBC][E-flora] Trumpet-like and 2-5mm long.[PCBC2004]
Fruits Dry nutlets with sticky, glandular hairs.[PCBC2004]
Leaves "Opposite, simple, short-stalked, egg-shaped to nearly circular, with a few shallow teeth along the upper half"[IFBC][E-flora] Firm, to 1cm long.[PCBC2004] "Somewhat leathery, conspicuously netted-veined..."[HNW]
Properties Fragrant.[PCBC2004]
Habitat Woods, especially pine, and in the shade of rocks to elevations of 725 metres in N. Britain[17]. [PFAF] Open or dense forest.[PCBC2004]
ssp. longiflora common throughout BC[IFBC][E-flora]
ssp. borealis infrequent in extreme NW BC.[IFBC][E-flora]
Northern Europe, including Britain, from Norway south and east to Germany, the Alps and N. Asia.[PFAF] "In Sweden it is common from the province of Smaland and northwards.[Niva,2003] Circumboreal.[Hitchcock&cronquist][Niva,2003 Northern California to B.C.[PSW]
Status Native.[WildPNW]
Ecological Indicator
Circumpolar. "Scattered to plentiful in mossy understories in coniferous forests on water­shedding sites: on moist and wet sites it inhabits topographic prominences, on nutrient-rich sites it is restricted to decaying coniferous wood; persists on undisturbed cutover sites. Commonly associated with Cornus canadensis, Goodyera oblongifolia, Hylocomium splendens, Kinbergia oregana, and Vaccium parvifolium."[IPBC][E-flora]
Linnaea borealis ssp. borealis
Linnaea borealis ssp. longiflora [E-flora]


Linnaea borealis L. var. americana; The entire plant used as a squaw medicine. "Among the white men, the plant has been used as a bitter, a sub-astringent and an antirheumatic...".[HuronSmith Zuni]

"'You may take the Linnaea stems and boil them at once, but for practical reasons I dry them and put them in plastic bags for bread. The quantity housed in such a bag is boiled with 2–21/2 litres of water. After having boiled, it should simmer for some 20 min. Afterwards, the stems are removed by sieving and thrown away. When the decoction has cooled, you take a dry, clean cloth and dip into it. This is placed where the shingles has attacked. Let it stay for half an hour. In the course of the day, you should drink a cup of the decoction, little by little. Keep on doing this until you are well.’ (Glorvigen, 2001: 19).'"[alm2006]


"Floral scent is desribed as almond-like and consists of four benzoid compounds: 1,4-dimethoxybenzene, anisaldehyde, 2-phenylethanol, and benzaldehyde, and one nitrogen-containing compound, nicotinaldehyde".[Niva,2003]


Groundcover: "The plant forms an extensive twiggy mat and is useful as a ground cover on peat beds and in rock gardens[188]. Plants form a dense carpet when growing in god conditions, rooting as they spread, but otherwise the cover is sparse[208]. Plants should be spaced about 60cm apart each way[208]."[PFAF]

"Prefers a rather shaded position in a rock garden in a moist peaty soil[11, 200]. It grows well in pine woods[245]. Requires an acid soil[200]. Plants can be rather difficult to establish[200]. The sub-species L. borealis americana grows more freely than the European form. The plant is polymorphic[1]. The flowers have an evening fragrance like that of the honeysuckle[245]. Special Features:North American native, Fragrant flowers."[PFAF]

"Plant Associations': ...Klinka et al. (1989) noted that soopolallie [Shepherdia canadensis''] is often associated with plants such as pinegrass (Calamagrostis rubescens), twinflower (Linnaea borealis), and falsebox (Pachistima myrsinites)." [Keefer WAB]


"Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame[188]. Sow stored seed as soon as possible, it is likely to require a period of cold stratification. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division of rooted runners in the spring[188]. Layering. Cuttings of half-ripe wood in the summer[188]. They are rather slow to root[1]."[PFAF]


Page last modified on Saturday, June 5, 2021 10:26 AM