Twinflower is a member of the honeysuckle family and, like some of its relations, it is a creeper. However, twinflower grows much closer to the ground than honeysuckle, creeping beneath other low-growing plants with its thread-like stem. It is an evergreen perennial, with small oval leaves about a centimetre in length, and delicate bell-shaped flowers. As its name suggests, the flowers usually occur in pairs (although, there may only be one), drooping from a long stalk and coloured white or pink, with red stripes inside the bell.
The plant’s scientific name Linnaea refers to the fact that it was named in honour of the 18th century Swedish naturalist, Carl Linné, often called ‘the father of modern taxonomy’. Linné, who called himself ‘Linneaus’, developed the system that is still used to identify all species of plant, animal, fungus, single and simple multi-cell organisms and bacteria – the five Kingdoms of life on Earth. Every newly discovered organism (and newly discovered fossil) is identified and classified with two names (or three if it is discovered to be a variation of an existing species), derived from Latin or Greek. The names usually describe one of the species’ characteristics, (such as borealis – meaning ‘of the north’). A full classification of the species will place it in one of the five Kingdoms. From there, its other characteristics determine that species’ place within a number of other sub-categories (such as those shown above). Linneaus was typically self-deprecatory in response to the honour of having twinflower named after him. He wrote; "Linnaea was named by the celebrated Gronovius and is a plant of Lapland, lowly, insignificant and disregarded, flowering but for a brief space - from Linnaeus who resembles it."
- Plant length: up to 2m
- Height: 5 - 15 cm