Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Northeast Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Mertensia virginica (L.) Pers.
- Family: Borage (Boraginaceae)
- Flowering: March-June
- Field Marks: This species is distinguished by its clusters of long, bell-shaped blue flowers
and the complete absence of hairs on the plant.
- Habitat: Rich woods, bottomlands.
- Habit: Perennial herb from shallow roots.
- Stems: Upright, sometimes branched, smooth, sometimes slightly glaucous, up to 2 feet tall.
- Leaves: Basal leaves elliptic to ovate, smooth, without teeth, up to 8 inches long, on smooth stalks; stem leaves alternate, simple, oblong to oval, smooth, without teeth, up to 6 inches long, sessile or nearly so.
- Flowers: Several in terminal clusters, often on one side of the branches of the inflorescence; buds pink.
- Sepals: 5, united below, green, smooth, up to 1/4 inch long.
- Petals: 5, united below into an elongated tube, blue, up to 1 1/4 inches long.
- Stamens: 5, attached to the tube of the petals.
- Pistils: Ovary superior, 4-lobed; style 1.
- Fruits: Nutlets 4 in a cluster, wrinkled, somewhat fleshy when young, about 1/8 inch long.
- Notes: This is a choice plant for shaded wildflower gardens. Flower color is influenced by soil acidity and alkalinity.
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