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Hydrophyllum virginianum (Virginia waterleaf)
Reveal, James L.

Hydrophyllum virginianum

Hydrophyllum virginianum L.

Virginia Waterleaf, Eastern Waterleaf, Shawnee Salad

Hydrophyllaceae (Waterleaf Family)



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

Clusters of white or dark violet flowers are on long stalks arising on the leaf axils and extending above the leaves. 32 in. perennial with broadly triangular leaves which are lobed almost to the midrib. "Leaflets" may be further lobed. Surface of the leaves is marked as if stained by water. Clusters of bell-shaped, lavender flowers are held above the leaves on an erect stem.

This woodland perennial with the water-stained appearance of the leaves (suggesting its common name) is one of several in this genus with tubular flowers and protruding stamens. Large-leaved Waterleaf (H. macrophyllum), a southern and midwestern species, is rough and hairy. Broad-leaved Waterleaf (H. canadense) has flower stalks shorter than its maple-like leaves and occurs from western New England to northern Alabama and Missouri. The flowers of both these species are white, but the Appendaged Waterleaf (H. appendiculatum) has showier lavender flowers and leaves that are lobed but not as deeply cut as those of Virginia Waterleaf. Its range is from Ontario and Minnesota south to Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Missouri, and eastern Kansas.


From the Image Gallery

14 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 32 inches tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Purple
Bloom Time: May , Jun


USA: AR , CT , DC , DE , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , MA , MD , MI , MN , MO , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , SD , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: MB , ON , QC
Native Distribution: Que. to Man., s. through w. New England to SC, TN, n. AR and e. KS.
Native Habitat: Rich, upland woods; shady floodplains; moist clearings

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
Soil Description: Rich, moist soils.
Conditions Comments: A low-maintanance ground cover for wooded areas. Leaves often have whitish colouring like a water stain, hence the name waterleaf. Can be an agressive grower.

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Bumble Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Description: Division is the most practical method of increase. Divide the rhizome in fall or when plants go dormant, making sure each section has a leaf bud and some roots. For seed propagation, best results are obtained by sowing outdoors immediately after collection.
Seed Collection: Seed capsules mature to dark-brown or black 8-10 weeks after flowering. Seeds are light-brown when mature. If storage is necessary, pack seeds in damp sphagnum moss and refrigerate in a sealed container.
Commercially Avail: yes

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 on display at the following locations:

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

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2023-02-14
Research By: TWC Staff

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