Medical Herbs Catalogue



Family: N.O. Pyrolaceae The species are known by the common name of Wintergreen.

The name Pyrola is a diminutive of Pyrus (a pear tree), from the resemblance of it leaves to those of the pear.

WINTERGREEN Botanical Name: Pyrola secunda Pyrola secunda is known as Yevering Bells, from the resemblance of its flowers to little bells hung one above the other.

Description: Low herbs, with a slender shortly creeping stock; orbicular or ovate, nearly radical leaves; and white or greenish, drooping flowers, either solitary or several in a short raceme, on leaflets, erect peduncles. Sepals five, small. Petals five, distinct or slightly joined at the base, forming at first a spreading corolla, which persists round the young capsule, assuming a globular shape. Stamens ten. Capsule five-celled, opening by slits in the middle of the cells.

Pyrola uniflora (one-flowered Wintergreen), found in woods, in Northern and Arctic Europe, Asia and America, and along the high mountain ranges of Central Europe. In pine woods from Perth and Aberdeen northwards. Flowers in the summer.

P. media (Intermediate Wintergreen), not found in England south of Warwick and Worcester, whence it extends to Shetland; it also is found in the north and west of Ireland.

P. minor (Common Wintergreen). In woods and moist shady places in Europe, Northern Asia and the extreme north of America, becoming a mountain plant in Southern Europe and the Caucasus. Frequent in Scotland, northern England, more local in southern England. Rare in Ireland. Flowers in the summer.

P. secunda. Very local in Britain, found in Monmouthshire and from Yorkshire northward to Ross-shire. It is very rare in the northeast of Ireland only. Flowers in the summer.

LARGE WINTERGREEN Botanical Name: Pyrola rotundifolia Synonym: Round-leaved Wintergreen.

Description: A larger plant than Pyrola minor, with larger and whiter flowers and the petals more spreading, but chiefly distinguished from it by the long, protruding, much-curved style, usually at least twice as long as the capsule with a much smaller stigma, with short erect lobes.

Medicinal Action and Uses: Astringent, diuretic, tonic, antispasmodic. The decoction much used in skin diseases and to eradicate a scropulous condition from the system. The decoction also valuable as a gargle and wash for ophthalmic eyes.

Used internally for epilepsy and other nervous affections.

Dose of decoction, 1 fluid ounce three times daily. Solid extract, 2 to 4 grains. The Germans use this plant in their wound drinks and in many ointments and plasters. A decoction of the leaves with the addition of a little cinnamon and red wine cures bloody stools, ulcers of the bladder and restrains the menses. Salmon says: 'The liquid juice. It consolidates green wounds, uniting their lips speedily together; and taken inwardly 2 or 3 spoonfuls at a time in wine and water, it stops inward fluxes of the blood and cures inward wounds. It stops the overflowing of the Terms in women, cures spitting and vomiting of Blood, the Hepatick Flux, Bloody Flux and all other Fluxes of the Bowels. It is said to cure ulcers and wounds in the Reins and Bladder, Womb and other secret parts, as also ulcers and Fistulas in any other part of the Body, being inwardly taken and outwardly applied. The decoction in wine and water . . . has all the former virtues, but not altogether so powerful and may be given morning and night from 3 ounces to 6, sweetened with syrup of the juice of the same.... The Balsam or Ointment is made with Hog's Lard, or with oil olive, Bees Wax and a little Turpentine . . . heals cankers of the mouth and gums.' See: