Classification Hierarchy
Kingdom Plantae
Subkingdom Tracheophyta
Superdivision Spermatophyta
Division Magnoliophyta
Class Magnoliopsida
Subclass Asteridae
Order Lamiales
Family Boraginaceae
Genus Mertensia
Species Mertensia virginica
Virginia bluebells

BONAP, FNA, ITIS, USDA, VPI

Scientific Name: Mertensia virginica

Common Name: Virginia bluebells

Origin: Native

Notes: There are eighteen species in this genus, but only one is common in Iowa. A second species M. paniculata has been reported in NE Iowa where it is regarded as rare. The distinctive flowers on this spring blooming perennial make it easy to spot in Iowa woods.

Additional references: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.

Field Marks for Identification:

Flowers: April/May; pink buds develop into blue funnelform flowers (rarely pink or white); inflorescence nearly scorpioid with many flowers pendulous.

Leaves: alternate; stems and leaves are completely glabrous; basel leaves with long petioles, stem leaves short petiolate to sessile, leaf bases running down the stem as narrow wings.

Glossaries of botanical terms: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

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