Thanks to Ruth for today’s write-up:
We have seen a lot of rather masculine and more burly plants lately. Here is something delicate and feminine for a change. The round-leafed wintergreen, Pyrola rotundifolia, shown here is a member of the Ericaceae along with blueberries, azaleas and rhododendrons.
The showy and curious protrusion from this flower is the gynoecium (female reproductive organs). The stigma (pollen-receptive surface) is at the tip and the style is the remaining part of the tube reaching all the way to the swollen green ovary at the centre of the flower. This enlarged pistil plays the important role of attracting pollinators, specifically flies and bees. The androecium (male reproductive organs) consists of the many strands surrounding the gynoecium. For detailed illustrations of the floral parts, see Wikimedia: Pyrola rotundifolia. Pyrola rotundifolia grows in boggy, shady and wet meadow-like conditions. It is also an inhabitant of montane environments. Its native range stretches across Eurasia, including Greenland. A close relative, Pyrola americana or Pyrola rotundifolia var. americana depending on what source you read, can be found in northeastern North America.
I think it’s also important to note the differences between the genus Pyrola and other plants also commonly known as wintergreens, some members of the genus Gaultheria. Members of the genera Pyrola, Orthilia, Moneses and Chimaphila are all herbaceous plants named “wintergreens” because they stay green year-round. Gaultheria is a genus of evergreen woody shrubs, with oil of wintergreen (methyl salicylate) in their leaves (see medicinal uses of Gaultheria procumbens). All of these genera are in the Ericaceae.