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Linnaea borealis

Linnaea borealis

Linnaea borealis

Linnaea borealis

Linnaea borealis

Linnaea borealis

Linnaea borealis subspecies americana (Linnaeus' Twinflower)
Caprifoliaceae.
Synonym: Linnaeaceae. (Honeysuckle Family)

Montane, subalpine. Woodlands.  Summer.
Top: Lake Hope Trail, July 31, 2017 and Ryman Creek Trail, June 10 2016.
Lake Hope Trail, August 7, 2005.

These delicate beauties spread by runners in bright evergreen patches in moist, shaded woods.  Flower stems are typically two-to-four inches tall, leafless, and quite slender. Light pink flowers hang in pairs at the top of the stems.

The genus was named by Dutch naturalist Jan Frederik Gronovius patron of Carl Linnaeus and was published in 1737 by Linnaeus, first in his Flora Lapponica and again in his masterpiece, Species Plantarum, in 1753. (Click the title to read.) 

Linnaeus first saw Linnaea borealis in 1732 on his 6 month botanical explorations of Lapland. It became his favorite plant and was prominently pictured (often next to a drawing of Linnaeus or in Linnaeus' hands) in most of his future books.

In his Critica Botanica (click the title to read), Linnaeus jokingly modestly tells us of Linnaea borealis being named for him,

It is commonly believed that the name of a plant which is derived from that of a botanist shows no connection between the two...[but]...Linnaea was named by the celebrated Gronovius and is a plant of Lapland, lowly, insignificant, disregarded, flowering but for a brief space -- after Linnaeus who resembles it.

Read more about Linnaeus' Lapland trip, his love of Linnaea borealis, and the 300th anniversary of his birth. Click here. And here.

"Borealis" is Greek for "northern" and refers to the distribution of this plant across the northern hemisphere. The plant is, in fact, circumboreal. L. borealis subspecies longiflora is found from northern California to the Aleutian Islands. L. borealis subspecies borealis is the northern European plant Linnaeus loved.

Click for more biographical information about Linnaeus.

Click for more information about Linnaeus and the naming of plants.

Linnaea borealis

Linnaea borealis

Linnaea borealis subspecies americana (Linnaeus' Twinflower)
Caprifoliaceae.
Synonym: Linnaeaceae. (Honeysuckle Family)

Montane, subalpine. Woodlands.  Summer.
Lake Hope Trail, August 7, 2005.

There is a quiet, airy charm about these flowers.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Linnaea borealis