Pyrola aphylla

From Hike to Tamanawas 7/30/13

Some botanist say that the genus Pyrola (i.e. Wintergreen) has nine different species. Other botanist say that there are only six species.

However, all botanist agree that some of the species of Pyrola obtain their food by having leaves that use photosynthesis to make food. Other species of Pyrola have no leaves and they obtain their food from mycorrhizal fungi that are attached to other green plants.

The term "autotrophy" means obtaining food from Photosynthesis.
The term "mycotrophy" means obtaining fool from mycorrhizal fungi.

An interesting aspect of Pyrolas is that botanists suspect that there is a continuum of "mixotrophy" among the species (ratio autotrophy and mycotrophy). This phenomenon is referred to as the Pyrola picta complex.

Many botanists have recognized only one species, Pyrola picta, with a broad expression of morphological characters.

Some botanists have classified one leafless form of Pyrola picta as the species Pyrola aphylla, leafless wintergreen. Pyrola aphylla is a true mycotrophic wildflower and is the only member of the genus that is a mycotroph. That is what we have in my pictures

A further curiosity is that leafless wintergreen has flowers that occur as two different colors. In one form, the flowers are a greenish-white, resembling the flower color of Pyrola picta. In the other form, the flowers are pink to darkish red, resembling the flower color of Pyrola asarifolia.

Some botanists think that Pyrola aphylla is merely a leafless, fully mycotrophic form of Pyrola picta and/or Pyrola asarifolia, and not a distinct species at all. Is there a correct answer?

Botanists using the latest techniques are sequencing DNA and isotopes attempting to determine amounts and sources of organic carbon in this complex of wintergreens.

Perhaps soon, the puzzle of these groups of wintergreens will be solved (from

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