Twinflower Plant Profiles

The twinflower is from the Honeysuckle family. The scientific classification for this plant is Linnaea borealis. It is a woodland subshrub. The stems are prostrate, pubescent and slender. They grow from twenty to forty centimeters long and have evergreen, rounded oval shaped leaves that are from three to ten millimeters long and from two to seven millimeters wide. The flowering stems stand in a curve that is quite erect and grows from four to eight centimeters tall. They are leafless except at the base. The flowers grow in pairs, hang pendulously and are a pale pink with a five lobed corolla.

Cool temperate forests and moist subarctic areas are the growing places of this plant. It does extend further south at high altitudes in mountains in Europe south to the Alps, in North America south to northern California and Arizona in the west, in Asia south to northern Japan, and in Tennessee in the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern areas.The twinflower grows in Great Britain in open pine woodlands in Scotland and in some parts of northernmost England. This plant is listed as nationally scarce by some experts. It is found in around fifty sites around England. Most are in the woods around the Cairngorms. There are four sites in Northumberland and one in the County Durham. The flower continues to decline in England which explains the scarcity of the sites where the flower grows.

There is only one species in the twinflower genus but three subspecies do exist. They are Linnaea borealis subspecies borealis-Europe, Linnaea borealis subspecies. Americana-North America, and Linnaea borealis subspecies longiflora-Asia.

This flower is one of the few species to be named after Carolus Linnaeua. The paired flower gives it its common name. This was Linnaeus’ favourite plant and he called it Linnaea and later changed it to Rudbeckia. Carolus Linnaeua was a Swedish botanist, zoologist, and physician. The flower is now the emblem of  Linnaeus’ home province Smaland in Sweden.

The twinflower grows well in open shade, dry, moist, sandy or acid soil in piney woods.They will also grow in cold woods and bogs. Bees and animals are the primary source of pollination for the twinflower. It attaches to the fur or feather of animals and is carriedby bees from one area to another. 

The twinflower was used as a tea by the Native American people. This beautiful flower is very recognizable when in bloom as there is nothing else quite like it anywhere.