(Linnaea borealis ssp. americana)

Conservation Status
American twinflower
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FAC - Facultative

  Northcentral & Northeast

FAC - Facultative


Twinflower is a perennial, ground-hugging, evergreen, dwarf shrub (subshrub). It occurs throughout Canada. In the United States it occurs in the east from Maine south to New York and west to Minnesota, and in the west from Washington east to Montana and south to northern California. In Minnesota it is very common in the northeast and north-central regions, uncommon in the metro and southeast regions, and absent from the south and southwest regions. There are a few occurrences in the north-western counties and only a single occurrence in Fillmore County along the South Branch Root River. Twinflower sometimes forms large colonies. It is found in deciduous, coniferous, and mixed forests and woodlands, thickets, cedar swamps, and bogs, in moist or moderately moist conditions. It grows under partial shade in peat, on rotting logs, and on mossy boulders.

The stems are slender, 3 to 6 (1 to 2 m) long, and lie flat on the ground (prostrate). They are slightly woody, reddish-brown, and covered with short, fine hairs. Older stems are woody and 116to (2 to 4 mm) in diameter. Every few inches a branch rises from a node. Branches can be 2 to 6 tall but are usually no more than 4 in height. They are erect, slender, reddish-brown, leafy, and hairy. New roots are produced where a node touches the ground or other substrate. After many years the stem may separate there and a new plant is created.

The leaves are opposite, evergreen, somewhat leathery, to 1116 (9 to 18 mm) long, and ¼ to (7 to 15 mm) wide. They are on 116 to 316 (2 to 5 mm) long leaf stalks. The leaf blades are egg-shaped (widest below the middle), inversely egg-shaped (widest above the middle), or elliptical (widest at the middle), to almost circular. They are angled at the base and rounded at the tip. The upper surface is dark green and sparsely covered with fine hairs. The lower surface is pale green and hairless or almost hairless. The margins have 1 to 4 rounded teeth above the middle on each side. Smaller leaves are often untoothed.

The inflorescence is a pair of flowers at the end of an erect, 1 to 3 (3.5 to 8 cm) long, inflorescence stalk (peduncle). Each flower droops at the end of a short, less than long, flower stalk (pedicel). The peduncle and pedicel are covered with gland-tipped hairs. There is a small modified leave (bract) at the base of each pedicel.

Each flower is bell-shaped and 516 to ½ (8 to 12 mm) long. There are 5 outer floral leaves (sepals), 5 petals, 4 stamens, and 1 style. The ovary, at the base of each flower, has two pairs of modified leaves, an outer, large, shield-like pair, and an inner, minute pair. The ovary and outer bracts are covered with gland-tipped hairs. The sepals (together the calyx) are green, united at the base into a short tube then separated into 5, narrow, 116to (2 to 3 mm) long lobes. The sepals are covered with gland-tipped hairs. They fall off when the plant is in fruit. The petals (together the corolla) are pink at the base, white at the tip. They are united at the base for more than half of their length into a funnel-shaped tube then separated into 5 pointed lobes. The inner surface of the corolla is densely covered with long hairs. The outer surface is hairless. The stamens are short and do not protrude from the corolla tube. The style has a slender white stalk and a cap-like stigma. It protrudes beyond the corolla tube.

The fruit is a yellow, dry, globe-shaped, 116 (2 mm) in diameter capsule with 1 seed. The fruit droops at the end of the pedicel and is enclosed by the persistent outer bracts.




2 to 4


Flower Color


Pink to white


Similar Species


Moist or moderately moist. Deciduous, coniferous, and mixed forests and woodlands, thickets, cedar swamps, and bogs. Partial shade. Peat, rotting logs, and mossy boulders.




Early mid-June to early August


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 24, 28, 29, 30.








Very common

  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  


Dipsacales (honeysuckles, moschatels, and allies)  


Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle)  
  Subfamily Linnaeoideae (abelias, twinflower and allies)  


Linnaea (twinflowers)  
  Species Linnaea borealis (twinflower)  

There is no consensus as to the correct placement of this subspecies. The names Linnaea borealis ssp. americana, Linnaea borealis var. americana, Linnaea borealis ssp. longiflora, and Linnaea borealis var. longiflora, are all currently in use. Some sources, including USDA PLANTS, consider Linnaea borealis ssp. longiflora the Asian species that also occurs in western North America from Alaska to California, and Linnaea borealis ssp. longiflora a subspecies that occurs throughout North America except in the southeast and south-central regions.




Linnaea americana

Linnaea borealis var. americana

Linnaea borealis ssp. longiflora

Linnaea borealis ssp. longiflora


Common Names


American twinflower














Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk, flower cluster, or inflorescence.



The group of outer floral leaves (sepals) below the petals, occasionally forming a tube. Plural: calyces.



A collective name for all of the petals of a flower.



The smal l swelling of the stem from which one or more leaves, branches, or buds originate.



On plants: the stalk of a single flower in a cluster of flowers. On insects: the second segment of the antennae. On Hymenoptera and Araneae: the narrow stalk connecting the thorax to the abdomen: the preferred term is petiole.



In angiosperms, the stalk of a single flower or a flower cluster; in club mosses, the stalk of a strobilus or a group of strobili.



Laying flat on the ground.



An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

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This plant likes to grow in shady mossy areas.

    American twinflower   American twinflower  
    American twinflower   American twinflower  
    American twinflower      
    American twinflower      






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Location: Fairview Twp, Cass County

This plant likes to grow in shady mossy areas.

American twinflower  

Location: Cass County

American twinflower  






Created: 11/2/2020

Last Updated:

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