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Uvularia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Colchicaceae, which is closely related to the lily family (Liliaceae). They are commonly called bellworts, bellflowers or merrybells. The genus name is derived from the Latin Å«vula meaning "little grape," likely because of the way the flowers hang downward. For the same reason Uvularia may also refer to the similarly derived palatine uvula, which hangs down from the soft palate in the mouth. The plants are often found growing on wooded slopes or in ravines and they spread by stolons.
Uvularia species are herbaceous perennials with erect, simple or twice branched stems. Leaves alternate, sessile or perfoliate. Single or sometimes paired flowers hang downward from the top of the stems appearing axillary but are in fact terminal. They bloom in spring with bell shaped flowers composed of long tepals. Fruits are three lobed, greenish to yellowish brown in color, producing 1 to 3 roundish seeds per locule.Anderson, E. and T. W. Whitaker. 1934. Speciation in Uvularia. J. Arnold Arbor. 15: 28–42. Dietz, R. A. 1952. Variation in the perfoliate uvularias. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 39: 219–247. Hayashi, K. et al. 1998. Molecular systematics of the genus Uvularia and selected Liliales based upon matK and rbcL gene sequence data. Pl. Spec. Biol. 13: 129–146. Kawano, S. and H. H. Iltis. 1964. Cytotaxonomic and geographic notes on Uvularia (Liliaceae). Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 91: 13–23. Soper, J. H. 1952. Phytogeographic studies in Ontario I. The genus Uvularia in southern Ontario. Rhodora 54: 58–67. Wijesinghe, D. K. and D. F. Whigham. 2001. Nutrient foraging in woodland herbs: A comparison of three species of Uvularia (Liliaceae) with contrasting belowground morphologies. Amer. J. Bot. 88: 1071–1079. Wilbur, R. L. 1963. A revision of the North American genus Uvularia (Liliaceae). Rhodora 65: 158–188.
Uvularia grandiflora is the most commonly planted of the five species of Uvularia all native to eastern North America, from southern Quebec and Ontario south to Georgia and east to Minnesota. With a common name of great merrybells or large-flowered bellwort, this woodland plant is one of the first wildflowers to emerge in spring. It is a long-lived perennial in the lily family (Liliaceae) [or in the Convallariaceae or Ruscaceae, depending on which taxonomist you discuss this with] that is hardy in zones 3-7.Bellwort is an excellent early-blooming native shade plant for the woodland garden, shaded border front, wildflower garden or naturalized area. It spreads slowly by rhizomes so you can achieve a mass planting look under shade trees or along wood margins in a relatively short amount of time. The Bellwort flowers and leaves have an overall droopy appearance when in bloom. However, after seeds are set, the leaves of Uvularia take on a different look, somewhat like a needle threading the stem through the leaves. (Source: www.prairiemoon.com)