White with a green tint.
Flowers: growing on a scape in a long, wand-like raceme; nodding at the end. Calyx: of five sepals. Corolla: of five ovate, wax-like petals. Stamens: ten. Pistil: one, protruding and curved; stigma, five-divided. Leaves: clustered at the base of the plant; rather oval petiolate; evergreen; thin;
marked with a dull, flesh colour. Scape: upright, with one, or two scaly bracts.
To name this sweetly pretty plant, shin-leaf, is very much like christening a little, dimpled baby, Nehemiah. It would seem as though both were slightly inappropriate. But according to the dear old doctrine of signatures, plants should be called for their visible uses; and as the leaves of these plants were long ago used to assuage the hurt of bruises, they came to be associated with shin-plasters. Not that these plasters were held in reserve for the shins alone, but were applied quickly wherever the hurt might be.
It is therefore owing to the efficacy of the leaves that the gentle blossoms have had attached to them so plebeian a name.
P. rotundifolia, round-leaved wintergreen is a sister plant of the shin-leaf, and is almond scented. It has numerous bracts on the scape and its leaves are thick and shiny. It is found in rather more open woods. There is another variety which is rose-coloured and grows in bogs.
P. secunda, serrated wintergreen is noticeable on account of its small, green flowers, which turn to one side of the stem. It is less evergreen than the preceding species and has the thin, dull leaves of the shin-leaf.