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).