Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Mertensia virginica

Virginia bluebells

Boraginaceae (Borage Family)

Mertensia virginica (Virginia bluebells)
Cressler, Alan
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).

Image Gallery:

18 photo(s) available

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 , DE , GA , IL , IN , IA , KS , KY , ME , MD , MA , MI , MN , MS , MO , NJ , NY , NC , OH , PA , TN , VA , WV , WI , DC
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

Last Update: 2014-07-29