Wood Nymph (Moneses uniflora)
Some books put this plant in the Pyrola (wintergreen) genus, while others give it it’s own: Moneses. The later translating to “one” (monos) “delight” (hesia), quite accurately reflecting the feeling when finding this little gem, especially a small patch of them. We also use the common name ‘Wood Nymph’, conjuring Waterhouse paintings and romantic overtures.
Found in many western states, but not really common anywhere. We keep a close eye out for it, but have only seen it a few times (ranging from near Mt. Rainier to SE Alaska). Every time, the plant, no more than a couple inches tall, was growing out of the side of a moss covered rock, tree, or log.
Also called Single-flowered Wintergreen, Single delight, Waxflower, and Olaf’s candlestick (we’re not sure who Olaf is, but the candlestick is clearly the long, green stigma and style, as evident in the 2nd photo).
According to Pojar & MacKinnon’s Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast, some tribes (the Kwakwaka’wakw) used this to treat wounds and others brewed a tea from it, sometimes mixed with Labrador Tea (Haida) and sometimes the roots of licorice fern.