views updated

Pyrolaceae A family of dicotyledonous (see DICOTYLEDON), evergreen herbs whose creeping rhizomes bear simple, stalked leaves. The family is close to Ericaceae but differ in having petals that are always free, minute seeds, an ovary incompletely divided into 5 cells, and the herbaceous habit. There are 4 genera, comprising 42 species, confined to the northern temperate and Arctic zones, where they usually occur in coniferous forests or on heathland, etc., growing in the vegetable litter layer, which they exploit as partial saprophytes by means of a mycorrhizal relationship with a fungus.