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Linnaea borealis 8803.JPG
Linnaea borealis ssp. longiflora in flower, near the Matanuska Glacier in Alaska
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Dipsacales
Family: Caprifoliaceae
Subfamily: Linnaeoideae
Genus: Linnaea

See text.

Linnaea is a plant genus in the family Caprifoliaceae (the honeysuckle family). Until 2013, the genus included a single species, Linnaea borealis. In 2013, on the basis of molecular phylogenetic evidence, the genus was expanded to include species formerly placed in Abelia (excluding section Zabelia), Diabelia, Dipelta, Kolkwitzia and Vesalea.

Linnaea borealis was a favorite of Carl Linnaeus, founder of the modern system of binomial nomenclature, for whom the genus was named.


The genus Linnaea was first formally described by Carl Linnaeus. The name had been used earlier by the Dutch botanist Jan Frederik Gronovius, and was given in honour of Linnaeus. Linnaeus adopted the name in 1753 in Species Plantarum for the then sole species Linnaea borealis, because it was his favourite plant.[1]

Although some botanists placed other species in the genus, most treated Linnaea as a monotypic genus until 2013. Molecular phylogenetic studies from 2001 onwards showed that a number of genera were closely related to Linnaea (the "Linnaea clade"), although one of them, Abelia, was not monophyletic. In 2013, to maintain monophyletic genera, Maarten Christenhusz proposed merging Abelia (excluding section Zabelia), Diabelia, Dipelta, Kolkwitzia and Vesalea into Linnaea.[1] This proposal has been adopted by more recent sources, including the Plants of the World Online.[2][3]


The following species are accepted as of January 2018:[2][1]

  • Linnaea amabilis (Graebn.) Christenh. – China (Anhui, Gansu, Henan, Hubei, Shaanxi, Shanxi); rare in the wild but widely cultivated in China, Japan, Europe and North America
  • Linnaea borealis L. – circumboreal and subarctic (Canada, northern and central USA, Greenland, northern Britain, Fennoscandia, Baltic States, Mainland Europe south to the Alps, and the Balkans, Ukraine, Russia, Siberia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, northern China, Korea, northern Japan)
  • Linnaea chinensis (R.Br.) A.Braun & Vatke – China (Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang), northern Vietnam, Taiwan; commonly cultivated in China and Japan, occasionally in Europe and North America
  • Linnaea coriacea (Hemsl.) Christenh. – Mexico (Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí)
  • Linnaea dipelta Christenh. – China (Gansu, Guangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Shaanxi, Sichuan)
  • Linnaea elegans (Batalin) Christenh. – China (Gansu, Sichuan)
  • Linnaea engleriana Graebn.
  • Linnaea floribunda (M.Mart. & Galeotti) – Mexico (Chiapas, Oaxaca, Puebla, Veracruz)
  • Linnaea forrestii Diels – south-central China (southwestern Sichuan, northwestern Yunnan)
  • Linnaea × grandiflora (André) Christenh. – garden hybrid of L. chinensis and L. uniflora, only known from cultivation
  • Linnaea grandifolia (Villareal) Christenh. – Central Mexico (Querétaro)
  • Linnaea macrotera Graebn. & Buchw.
  • Linnaea mexicana (Villareal) Christenh. – south-central Mexico (Oaxaca)
  • Linnaea occidentalis (Villareal) Christenh. – Mexico (Durango)
  • Linnaea parvifolia (Hemsl.) Graebn.
  • Linnaea serrata (Siebold & Zucc.) Graebner – China (Zhejiang), Japan (Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku)
  • Linnaea spathulata (Siebold & Zucc.) Graebner – China (Zhejiang), Japan (Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku)
  • Linnaea tetrasepala (Koidz.) Christenh. – Japan (Honshu, Shikoku)
  • Linnaea uniflora (R.Br.) A.Br. & Vatke – China (Fujian, Gansu, Guangxi, Guizhou, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Yunnan); frequently cultivated
  • Linnaea yunnanensis (Franch.) Christenh. – China (Gansu, Guizhou, Hubei, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Yunnan), and adjacent Burma


Several species of Linnaea are in cultivation.


  1. ^ a b c Christenhusz, Maarten J.M. (2013), "Twins are not alone: a recircumscription of Linnaea (Caprifoliaceae)", Phytotaxa, 125 (1): 25–32, doi:10.11646/phytotaxa.125.1.4
  2. ^ a b "Linnea", Plants of the World Online, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, retrieved 2018-01-22
  3. ^ "Beauty bush (Linnaea amabilis)". iNaturalist. California Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 2018-01-22.