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          Mertensia virginica (Virginia bluebells)
          Cressler, Alan

          Mertensia virginica

          Mertensia virginica (L.) Pers. ex Link

          Virginia Bluebells

          Boraginaceae (Borage Family)


          USDA Symbol: MEVI3

          USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

          Erect plant with smooth gray-green foliage and nodding clusters of pink buds that open into light blue trumpet-shaped flowers. The 1-2 ft., branched and arching stems of Virginia bluebells bear pendulous, terminal clusters of lavender-blue, bell-shaped flowers. Large, gray-green, oval leaves line the stems of this perennial.

          When it grows in masses, this species makes a spectacular show, especially in the Midwest. A smaller, trailing, rosy-pink-flowered species, Sea Lungwort (M. maritima), occurs on beaches from Newfoundland to Massachusetts. Tall Lungwort (M. paniculata), a western species with a hairy stem, extends eastward into Wisconsin, northeastern Iowa, and Minnesota. The genus is named for the German botanist Franz Karl Mertens (1764-1831).


          From the Image Gallery

          35 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

          Plant Characteristics

          Duration: Perennial
          Habit: Herb
          Leaf: Green
          Size Class: 1-3 ft.

          Bloom Information

          Bloom Color: Pink , Blue , Purple
          Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun


          USA: AL , AR , DC , DE , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NJ , NY , OH , PA , TN , VA , WI , WV
          Canada: ON , QC
          Native Distribution: NY & s. Ont. to e. MN, s. to NC, AR & e. KS; naturalized northeastward
          Native Habitat: Moist woods & clearings; river bottoms. Species at risk in Ontario.

          Growing Conditions

          Water Use: High
          Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
          Soil Moisture: Moist
          Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
          CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
          Soil Description: Rich, moist, sometimes rocky, soils.


          Conspicuous Flowers: yes


          Description: For best results, seeds should be sown immediately after collection or stored and planted six weeks prior to the last frost date. If stored over winter and planted in the spring, the seeds must be cold-moist stratified for six weeks. Rhizomes may be divided while the plant is dormant.
          Seed Collection: Approximate collection date in northern U.S.: Late May to early Jun. Seeds will ripen in the yellowish-brown fruit approximately 3-4 weeks after flowering. Stem will probably have collapsed by then. Dry and store in a sealed, refrigerated container.
          Seed Treatment: Cold moist stratification for six weeks may be necessary.
          Commercially Avail: yes

          Find Seed or Plants

          View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

          National Wetland Indicator Status

          Status: FAC FACW FACW FAC
          This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

          From the National Organizations Directory

          According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

          Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
          Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

          Additional resources

          USDA: Find Mertensia virginica in USDA Plants
          FNA: Find Mertensia virginica in the Flora of North America (if available)
          Google: Search Google for Mertensia virginica


          Record Modified: 2014-07-29
          Research By: TWC Staff

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