Elliottia pyroliflora

A western North American native, Elliottia pyroliflora is found from northwest Oregon north to Alaska. In British Columbia, it is most commonly found in western BC, but small populations can be found in the eastern part of the province. This photograph was taken in western Washington by Tanja Schuster, who was visiting the area as part of Botany 2008 in July (Tanja is a member of the Kron lab at Wake Forest University in North Carolina). You can see another of Tanja’s photographs on the submissions page for the Conant “Botanical Images” Student Travel Award Submissions. Thank you, Tanja!

Commonly known as copperbush, Elliottia pyroliflora grows in subalpine boreal and cool mesothermal climates (mesothermal simply means temperate or moderate heat as well as moderate cold). Boreal forests are a biome or climatically-defined area with mostly coniferous forests. It is a deciduous woody shrub growing to a maximum of 2 meters tall. The common name copperbush is derived from it typically having loose, shredding copper-coloured bark. The solitary flowers of this species resemble that of Pyrola, the genus discussed in yesterday’s write up, hence the specific epithet pyroliflora. This species was originally classified as Cladothamnus pyroliflorus but was later moved to the genus Elliottia (most references still use the synonym).

Elliottia pyroliflorus
Elliottia pyroliflorus

8 responses to “Elliottia pyroliflora”

  1. MikeC

    Interesting that it’s been moved to Elliottia. I wonder if anyone’s tried crossing it with the Southeastern US native, Elliottia racemiflora?

  2. deb lievens

    Nice two-day juxtaposition of plants. And I appreciated the definition of mesothermal – a climate I have no experience with living here in New England.

  3. Tanja

    Thanks for the posting! I don’t mean to quibble, but I believe the correct name is Elliottia pyroliflora (Bong.) Brim & P.F. Stevens

  4. Clinton Morse

    Indeed, IPNI lists it as E. pyroliflora – J. Arnold Arbor. 59: 336. 1978

  5. Dee

    I’m curious how these plants are pollinated due to shapes plus directions of pistil and stamens! Answers please someone. Thank you.

    1. Brett Ludden

      I know a naturalist who lives in BC, Canada. I’ll try to get an answer from him. If I do, I’ll reply again and let you know what he says. Have a great day!

      1. Brett Ludden

        My naturalist friend says,
        “They seem to be pollinated by ants. Each flower often has 1-3 ants crawling on it at all times. Have never seen a bee or other pollinator on them, although I’ve not observed at night.”

  6. Eric La Fountaine

    I believe the commenters are correct. The specific epithet should be pyroliflora. I made the changes in the text and title.

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