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Uvularia sessilifolia (Spreading bellwort)
Bloodworth, Stefan

Uvularia sessilifolia

Uvularia sessilifolia L.

Spreading Bellwort, Straw Lily, Wild Oats, Merrybells, Sessile-leaf Bellwort, Sessile Bellwort

Liliaceae (Lily Family)

Synonym(s): Oakesiella sessilifolia

USDA Symbol: uvse

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

The 10-15 in. stalks of this perennial are usually two-branched and bear oval, lily-like leaves. Delicate, cream-colored flowers may be single or paired and hang bell-like on short axillary stems. The 1 or 2 creamy yellow, drooping flowers are at the top of an angled stem having unstalked leaves. The roots colonize to form a groundcover.

This common woodland wildflower has a near relative, Perfoliate Bellwort (U. perfoliata), whose stem appears to pierce the leaves. The interior surface of the flowers is roughened with small glands. A bigger version, Large-flowered Bellwort (U. grandiflora), has bright yellow flowers and perfoliate leaves which are downy beneath. It reaches a height of 20" (50 cm). Mountain Bellwort (U. puberula) has shiny leaves and stems in clumps, and is similar to Sessile Bellwort, as is Florida Bellwort (U. floridana), which has a small, leaf-like bract on the flower stalk. At one time these plants were thought to be good for treating throat diseases because the drooping flowers resembled the uvula, the soft lobe hanging into the throat from the soft palate.


From the Image Gallery

8 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Generally 6 to 12 inches tall
Leaf: Yellow-green
Fruit: Green in summer 1 inch

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May
Bloom Notes: Typically pale yellow in color


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , ND , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NS , ON
Native Distribution: N.B. to MN to the Dakotas, s. to extreme n. FL & OK, Zones 4 to 8
Native Habitat: Woods, thickets, clearings

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Moist, rich, acidic soils. Prefers high humus and good drainage.
Conditions Comments: Does not tolerate flooding.


Use Ornamental: Useful deciduous groundcover for shade
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes


Propagation Material: Root Division , Seeds
Description: Seeds should be sown immediately upon ripening and should not be allowed to dry out before sowing. Propagate also by rhizome division.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: A winter cover of leaves should be left in place to provide compost and humus. To establish it as a solid groundcover, allow to seed out each year until it fills in fully.

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


Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2015-07-08
Research By: TWC Staff

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