poetry and prose about place

Twinflower (Linnaea borealis L.)

with 10 comments

As we enter the winter months, I like to remember the woodland plants now waiting under the layers of fallen leaves to flower again next spring.

Twin-flower (Linnaea borealis L. var. americana (Forbes) Rehd.) is a low-growing, creeping evergreen, found blooming in late June in wooded swamps, coniferous bogs and clearings. 

Each slender stalk bears a set of two delicate, nodding, fragrant flowers, white in color and tinged with pink.  Other names for the plant are pink bells and, in French, linnée boréale.  The specific name is from the Latin borealis, meaning northern. 

The European variety was a special favorite of Linnaeus, the founder of the present system of naming flowers. 



            Linnaea borealis L.


                                    conifer cathedral

                        slanting light

            Linnaea carpets

stains the forest floor

            to the edge

                        near the forest door

                                    a woodland pool


                                    on slender stem


                in the pool

       and in the air

twinflower rings

pink boreal bells

            at vespers

                    in whispers

                        a whisper

                                    the rule


                                    creeps under roots

                        and fallen leaves

            Linnaea trails

over rude beams fallen

            from fences built

                        when woods

                                    were pasture


                                     twin flowers

                                     settle back to back

                                     nodding heads

                                     they cease to ring

                                     and sleep 


© Jane Tims  1992

Written by jane tims

November 12, 2011 at 7:47 am

10 Responses

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  1. Dear Jane,
    What a beautiful poem! Here in Finland We have a lot of these beautiful flowers.
    I’m doing a school project about twinflower and I would like to ask your permission to add your poem to the project. It will not be published anywhere and it’ll only be used in my school.

    Best regards,

    Liked by 1 person

    Miina Savolainen

    May 26, 2018 at 9:40 am

    • Hi Miina. I would be honoured to have my poem used in this way. Just quote the source. Best wishes in your school endeavors!!!! Glad this flower blooms in your country too! Jane


      jane tims

      May 28, 2018 at 3:52 pm

  2. I’ve always loved the Scandinavian girl’s name, Linnea, and the delicate and subtle flower found on the bone china pattern… They must be so pretty in the woods, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen them in the wild around New England. I love your drawing and poem.


    Barbara Rodgers

    November 14, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    • Hi Barbara. Thanks. The flowers also have a scent as delicate as they look. Jane


      jane tims

      November 14, 2011 at 6:29 pm

  3. Nice drawing Jane. Your poem blends in well…pink boreal bells

    at vespers

    in whispers

    a whisper

    the rule
    Nicely done!



    November 12, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    • Thanks for the comment. Always, when writing poetry, there are uncertainties. For those lines, it was a question … should I repeat the word ‘whisper’? Jane


      jane tims

      November 13, 2011 at 7:30 am

      • Of course … the poet makes the rules. Having rules set by others takes away the uncertainties, takes away the romance of poetry.



        November 13, 2011 at 8:55 am

      • Hi Denis. I think you are right… the poem is more organic than a set of rules, for sure. I have to remember this…Jane


        jane tims

        November 13, 2011 at 7:00 pm

  4. It’s always a pleasant anticipation when in February one starts looking for the early wildflowers to peek up from the snow!


    Watching Seasons

    November 12, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    • Hi. Right now, spring seems so far away. I think my thinking about wildflowers is the same as getting out the seed catalogues in early spring! Jane


      jane tims

      November 12, 2011 at 4:51 pm

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