Pyrola picta

Whiteveined wintergreen


The Basics

Taxonomy: Kingdom - Plantae (plants). Subkingdom - Tracheobionta (vascular plants). Superdivision - Spermatophyta (seed plants). Division - Magnoliophyta (Flowering plants). Class - Magnoliopsida. Order - Ericales. Family - Pyrolaceae. Genus -Pyrola L. Species - Pyrola picta Sm

Ecology: A shade-tolerant, submontane to montane, Western North American perennial forb; its occurrence decreases with increasing elevation and latitude. Species occurs on moderately dry to fresh, nitrogen-medium soils. Widespread and scattered in coniferous forests on water-shedding sites. Usually associated with Hylocomium splendens, Linnaea borealis, and Pleurozium schreberi.


Leaves basal, petiolate, the blades ovate to elliptic-rotund, 2-7 cm. long, leathery, deep green on the upper surface but grayish-mottled along the main veins, the lower surface somewhat purplish, the margins thickened, entire to serrulate.Flowers are borne in small numbers towards the top of a leafless, red/brown stalk, attached by short peduncles. Flowers point downwards; they have five narrow, curving, reddish sepals and five larger petals, with rounded tips. Petal color varies from greenish white to creamy yellow to pale pink. At the center are five stamens and a protruding style.

Fun Facts

Pyrola picta is a species that obtains a portion of its food through mycorrhizal fungus. Pyrola picta attaches to other green plants and takes nutrients from them. This is not the only way for them to obtain food though. They also can produce food from there leaves as well. But due to the mycorrhizal fungus this can create leafless Pyrola picta. Making it hard for taxonomists to decipher what species they belong to exactly without doing DNA sequencing.


Pyrola picta blooms from June to august. Most of the reproduction is done through rhizomes which produce shoots for the plant to grow. Due to the rhizomes Pyrola picta is often grows close together and spreads quite well.

Species Distribution


The Jepson Herbarium
The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California. B.G. Baldwin, D.H. Goldman, D.J. Keil, R. Patterson, T.J. Rosatti, and D.H. Wilken [editors]. 2012. 2nd edition, thoroughly revised and expanded. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

USDA Plants Database
USDA, NRCS. 2016. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

Flora of North America
Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 19+ vols. New York and Oxford.

FS From Whence They Came
Service, U. F. (n.d.). From Whence They Came. Retrieved from Forest Service:

Diana D. Jolles 2017, Pyrola picta, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, Revision 5,, accessed on March 24, 2021.

Varability, Distribution, and Systematics of Pyrola picta
Haber, E. (1987). Variability, distribution, and systematics of Pyrola picta sl (Ericaceae) in western North America. Systematic Botany, 324-335.