Hydrophyllum Virginianum OR.

Hydrophyllum Virginianum OR.

Hydrophyllum Virginianum

Hydrophyllum virginianum, commonly called Virginia waterleaf or eastern waterleaf, is a species of plant in the borage family (Boraginaceae). It is an herbaceous perennial plant native to Eastern North America where it is primarily found in the Nidwest, Northeast, and Appalachian regions. Populations in the southern Appalachian Mountains have purple to maroon flowers and differ in a number of other characters. The taxonomic status of these entities has been debated, with the most traditional treatments recognizing them at the varietal rank as Hydrophyllum virginianum var. atranthum.


Virginia waterleaf, Hydrophyllum virginianum, is a native herbaceous perennial in the Hydrophylloideae (but often listed in the Hydrophyllaceae (waterleaf family) which was demoted to this subfamily of Boraginaceae (borage family)) found in moist, wet wooded areas of eastern North America from eastern Canada to the eastern part of the Dakotas and south to Missouri and North Carolina in Zones 3-6. Also called eastern waterleaf, Shawnee salad, and other common names, it is easily distinguished from other Hydrophyllum species (most of which do not occur in Wisconsin) by several characteristics of the stems, leaves and flowers. Native Americans used the plant medicinally. Flowers appear in mid spring to early summer (a little later than most spring-blooming wildflowers in woodlands) on erect leafless peduncles extending from the upper stems above the leaves.

Each peduncle produces a dense terminal spherical cyme about two inches across containing 8-20 flowers. Each small flower has a hairy green calyx, a tubular to bell-shaped corolla with five lobes, five conspicuous protruding hairy stamens with pale yellow tips that turn purplish-brown with age, and a slender style divided at the tip. The blossoms may be white, pink, pale blue or light purple. The flowers are pollinated by bumblebees, small carpenter bees, and other long-tongued bees feeding on the nectar – including the native waterleaf cuckoo bee which feeds only on plants in the genus Hydrophyllum – and are visited by other bees and flies which consume the pollen. The name Hydrophyllum means 'water'; notice how the early season leaves of the Virginia Waterleaf appear to have water droplets (see corresponding photo above). Virginia Waterleaf's small, light purple, bell-shaped flowers bloom from May to June. These small flowers attract mainly bees, but also some other pollinators. (Source:www.minnesotawildflowers.info)




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