Species distinguishing characteristics:
- Trailing stems produce Y-shaped, flowering stalks
- Paired, pink, bell-shaped, nodding flowers
- Opposite evergreen leaves
- Leaves with shallow teeth near tips
- Forms loose mats or ground cover in shady areas
- Mostly woody plants (shrubs, small trees, or vines)
- Opposite leaves
- Flowers and berries appear in pairs
- Flowers with 5 (or 4) petals united into a tube
- Fruit is a fleshy berry with remains of calyx attached
- Pithy stems
Trailing perennial evergreen that often forms loose mats and has erect flowering stems, up to 10 cm tall.
Leaves and stems:
Foliage is sparsely hairy. Reddish, slender, semi-woody, trailing stems produce erect, leafless, Y-shaped, flowering stems. Trailing stems have opposite, shiny evergreen leaves attached by short stalks. Leaves are broadly egg-shaped, 1–2 cm long, with a few shallow teeth toward the tips.
Paired pink (or white), narrowly funnel-shaped flowers, up to 1.5 cm long, that hang downward from the tips of a Y-shaped flowering stem. Fragrant flowers have 5 equal lobes, are hairy within and have 2 short and 2 longer, pollen-producing stamens.
Shallow, fibrous roots at the surface of, or slightly below, the soil or duff.
Small, round to egg-shaped seed capsule, 1.5–3 mm, with one seed in each of the 3 unequal cells and hooked bristles. Seed capsule is dry, unopened and covered in sticky glandular hairs. Readily catches on fur and feathers.
Shaded areas of moist, cool mossy forests, openings, and wetlands from low elevations to lower subalpine.
Named in honor of Carolus Linnaeus, the originator of the binomial system that names plants and animals by genus and species. Linnaeus often posed for photos with a sprig of twinflower. Borealis means “northern,” referring to its widespread distribution in northern latitudes. Can be used as native ground cover in rock gardens and on peat beds.