10 January 2010


In my recent post about Fairy Slipper, I mentioned that I saw several interesting plants characteristic of montane forest before finding a flowering Fairy Slipper. One of those plants was Twinflower (Linnaea borealis); in fact, this was the plant that I saw first, along the edge of the woods, that convinced me to push further into the woods to see what else was there. If not for this population of Twinflower, I might have missed out on Fairy Slipper.

A member of the honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae), Twinflower is an evergreen, trailing shrub with erect flower-bearing branches to six inches tall (Guennel 2004; Southwest Colorado Wildflowers 2010). The photos on this page show pretty clearly where it gets the common name of Twinflower. The genus Linnaea was named for 18th century naturalist Carl Linnaeus; the specific epithet borealis means "of northern regions," and refers to the circumboreal distribution of the species. Twinflower is known from the northern two-thirds of North America, as well as from higher elevations in the southwestern states (NatureServe 2010); however, it is considered a species of conservation concern in nine states (USDA, NRCS 2010).

Twinflower grows in habitats including conifer forest, cedar swamp, bog, and spring, sometimes along streams and pondshores (Guennel 2004; Wells et al. 1999). In Colorado, it is found in the montane and subalpine life zones (8,000-11,500 feet above sea level) (Guennel 2004).

It is no coincidence that I decided to post about Twinflower today. To see why I picked 10 January to share information about this species, see my recent post at Get Your Botany On!.

Guennel, G.K. (2004). Guide to Colorado Wildflowers, Volume 2: Mountains. Englewood, Colorado: Westcliffe Publishers.

NatureServe. (2010). NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available http://www.natureserve.org/explorer. (Accessed: January 10, 2010 ).

Southwest Colorado Wildflowers. Retrieved January 10, 2010. http://www.swcoloradowildflowers.com/.

USDA, NRCS. 2010. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov/, 10 January 2010). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

Wells, J.R., F.W. Case Jr., & T.L. Mellichamp. (1999). Wildflowers of the Western Great Lakes Region. Bloomfield Hills, Michigan: Cranbrook Institute of Science.

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