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
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
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Size Notes: Generally 6 to 12 inches tall
Fruit: Green in summer 1 inch
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May
Bloom Notes: Typically pale yellow in color
DistributionUSA: 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 ConditionsWater 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.
BenefitUse Ornamental: Useful deciduous groundcover for shade
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
PropagationPropagation 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
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording 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
BibliographyBibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
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Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Uvularia sessilifolia in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Uvularia sessilifolia in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Uvularia sessilifolia
MetadataRecord Modified: 2015-07-08
Research By: TWC Staff