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Nature Center of Charleston
Mertensia virginica (L.) Pers. ex Link
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).
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Herb Leaf:
Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Pink , Blue , Purple
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun
, 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 ConditionsWater 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.
BenefitConspicuous Flowers: yes
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:
National Wetland Indicator Status
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 either on display or available from the following:
Delaware Nature Society
- Hockessin, DEMt. Cuba Center
- Hockessin, DE
Record Last Modified: 2012-10-03
Research By: TWC Staff