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 Linnaea borealis subsp. var.  Twinflower
Linnaea borealis.jpg
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Caprifoliaceae > Linnaea borealis var. ,

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Linnaea (named after Linnaeus, at his own request; it was his favorite flower). Caprifoliaceae. Twin- Flower. Ornamental hardy plant grown sometimes for its delicate pink or purplish flowers.

Evergreen trailing subshrub: lvs. opposite, small, crenate, petioled, without stipules: fls. in pairs on slender upright peduncles; calyx 5-parted; corolla campanulate, 5-lobed; stamens 4; ovary 3-celled: fr. dry, indehiscent, 1-seeded. — Only one species in the colder regions of the northern hemisphere. There is an interesting monograph of this variable species by Wit- trock in Acta Hort. Berg. 4, No. 7, 187 pp., 13 pl. (1907), where about 150 varieties are described and figured.

The twin-flowers are half-woody plants with trailing slender thread-like stems, small, usually roundish persistent leaves and slender-stalked, nodding, pinkish or nearly white, campanulate twin flowers. They are hardy North and are graceful, dainty plants for rockeries, preferring a shaded moist position and porous, peaty or humous soil. Propagation is usually by division or by cuttings of soft or half-ripened wood under glass.

For L. floribunda, Braun & Vatke, and other species, see Abelia.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.

Linnaea borealis, commonly known as Twinflower (sometimes written twin flower) is a woodland subshrub, treated either in the family Caprifoliaceae, or sometimes in its own family Linnaeaceae. The stems are slender, pubescent and prostrate, growing to 20-40 cm long, with opposite evergreen rounded oval leaves 3-10 mm long and 2-7 mm broad. The flowering stems curve erect, to 4-8 cm tall, leafless except at the base; the flowers are paired, pendulous, 7-12 mm long, pale pink with a five-lobed corolla.

Its common name is from the paired flowers. It is one of few species to be named after Carolus Linnaeus, the naming having been formally made by Linnaeus' teacher, Jan Frederik Gronovius. It is said to have been Linnaeus' favourite plant; he took the flower as his own personal symbol when he was raised to the Swedish nobility in 1757. Of it, Linnaeus said "Linnaea was named by the celebrated Gronovius and is a plant of Lapland, lowly, insignificant, disregarded, flowering but for a brief time - from Linnaeus, who resembles it".

It has a circumpolar distribution in moist subarctic to cool temperate forests, extending further south at high altitudes in mountains, in Europe south to the Alps, in Asia south to northern Japan, and North America south to northern California and Arizona in the west, and Tennessee in the Appalachian Mountains in the east.

In Great Britain, the twinflower grows in mainly open pine woodlands in Scotland and northernmost England. Foresters consider this plant to be an indicator species of ancient woodlands, often found in association with Creeping Lady's Tresses. It is listed as "nationally scarce". It is found in about 50 sites around the country, with most situated in the woods around the Cairngorms; the southernmost locations are four sites in Northumberland and one in County Durham. The sparseness of the sites is responsible for the continued decline of the flower in the country.



Pests and diseases


Linnaea borealis is the only species in its genus, but there are three recognised subspecies:

  • Linnaea borealis subsp. borealis - Europe
  • Linnaea borealis subsp. americana - North America
  • Linnaea borealis subsp. longiflora - Asia


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