Pink pyrola is a forest and woodland herbaceous species in the wintergreen family (Pyrolaceae) with several long-petioled leaves and a spike of pinkish flowers. Plants spread from rhizomes, the stems reaching 15-30 cm tall. The basal leaves are heart-shaped to round, the base sometimes indented, shiny dark green on the upper side. Margins are entire to slightly crenate. Each plant has one leafless stem with 5-25 small perfect pink flowers. There are a few bracts below the flowers. Petioles and the stem are often reddish, both leaves and stems are glabrous. The five petals are red to white-pink, usually lighter at the base and darker at the tips, overlapping in a radially-symmetrical bowl-shaped flower. The style curves downwards (like an elephant's trunk), with a ring below the stigma. The anthers are curled over, encased in tan or dark pink sheath, releasing pollen through pores. Fruits are globose capsules containing many minute seeds. Pyrola asarifolia looks similar to the other pyrolas in the flora, but this species is distinguished by its pink flowers and anthers. Pyrola minor can sometimes have pink flowers, but its anthers are yellow, and the style is straight, not curving and not exserted from the flower.
Pyrola asarifolia is perennial, overwintering with rhizomes and evergreen leaves. This species flowers early in the season.
This species is insect pollinated. A study on pollination found that flowers would not self-fertilize if isolated from insects (no autodeposition), but it is unknown whether the species will set seed if self-pollinated (Jensen 1961). Fruits are round capsules, each splitting from the base and releasing hundreds of tiny seeds to be dispersed by wind, gravity and water. It also spreads clonally by rhizomes (Doak and Loso 2003).
Pyrola asarifolia is an amphi-Beringian species with a boreal-montane distribution. In North America, this species is widespread across Canada and boreal and western areas of the lower 48 states, reaching California and New Mexico in the west and Pennsylvania and New Jersey in the east. In Alaska, P. Asarifolia occurs throughout the interior, from the Brooks Range, Seward Peninsula and eastern interior Alaska southward into southeast Alaska and westward to Unalaska Island in the Aleutians. In Denali, this species occurs widely across boreal regions on both sides of the Alaska Range.
This species is more common on southern slopes than northern slopes, and plants that were found on south-facing sites showed a wider range of elevational occupancy. Though it grows on a wide range of elevations, there is a strong peak in frequency at 300-500 meters. It is most frequent on low slopes (0-12 degrees) and steep slopes (>28 degrees).