Twinflower Linnaea Borealis

Although mostly found in North East Scotland, the twinflower population has become critically scarce. In an attempt to bring the plant’s numbers back up, it has been the subject of conservation efforts in and around the Cairngorms National Park.

Behaviour

The twinflower is a distinctive plant with a slender Y-shaped stem, each side of which grows a pale pink bell-shaped flower. The flower’s stem is accented by near-circular leaves. The twinflower also has a thicker creeping stem which allows the plant to form mats on the ground in forested areas and pine woodlands.

Size

  • Height: 5cm – 15cm
  • Length: up to 1m

Status

The twinflower’s numbers have declined by 44% since the 1970s. It is thought that this dramatic decline may have been caused by the clearance of native woodlands, changes in the way woodlands are managed, and over-grazing by deer and sheep. These changes mean that patches of twinflowers in woodlands are often too far apart to be properly cross-pollinate or produce seeds.

It has been identified as a conservation priority in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, the Cairngorms Local Biodiversity Action Plan, and is included on the Scottish Biodiversity List.

Distribution

Uncommon in North East Scotland, rare in the rest of Scotland. Not found elsewhere in the UK.

When to see

June – July

Facts

  • The twinflower’s scientific name (Linnaea borealis) is a reference to Carl Linnaeus, the botanist who founded the modern system of giving organisms both a scientific and common name. The twinflower is said to have been one of his favourite plants.
  • At night the twinflower emits a fragrance similar to the smells released from the butterfly orchid or lilac

Common name

Twinflower

Species name

Linnaea Borealis

When to see in Scotland

June – July

Where to see in Scotland

North-eastern areas such as the Cairngorms National Park. Loch Fleet is the only Trust reserve where the twinflower has been recorded.

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