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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.We've all been there: you've finally discovered that perky, under-appreciated plant on a sunny window ledge in the corner of your apartment. . . There is a stairwell that leads to the roof, which is surprisingly accessible thanks to a row of dumpsters that separates it from the studs of buildings.
The roots, leaves, and upper stems provided nourishment for early settlers and Native Americans. By gathering the upper stems and leaves as greens, the young shoots could be boiled and eaten as an asparagus substitute. The fleshy roots are small, but edible when cooked. Because they contain some nutritional value, the roots were occasionally included as an ingredient in diet drinks. Because theplants are small, however, damage to the shoots, leaves, or roots generally kills the plant entirely. The plants should remain undisturbed and only gathered as food in cases of dire emergency.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.
Growing your own plants from seed is the most economical way to add natives to your home. Before you get started, one of the most important things to know about the seeds of wild plants is that many have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent the seed from germinating. In nature, this prevents a population of plants from germinating all at once, before killing frosts, or in times of drought. To propagate native plants, a gardener must break this dormancy before seed will grow.We dig plants when they are dormant from our outdoor beds and ship them April-May and October. Some species go dormant in the summer and we can ship them July/August. We are among the few still employing this production method, which is labor intensive but plant-friendly. They arrive to you dormant, with little to no top-growth (bare-root), packed in peat moss. They should be planted as soon as possible. Unlike greenhouse-grown plants, bare-root plants can be planted during cold weather or anytime the soil is not frozen. A root photo is included with each species to illustrate the optimal depth and orientation. Planting instructions/care are also included with each order. (Source: www.prairiemoon.com)