Virginia bluebells

Mertensia virginica

Quick Facts

  • Species

    Native

  • Habitat

    Virginia bluebells thrive in shady areas with moist soils, like woodlands or shaded floodplains. They do well when planted in large clumps.

  • Range

    Virginia bluebells can be found throughout the Chesapeake watershed.

  • Status

    Stable

The Virginia bluebell is a perennial with blue, trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom in spring. It can be found throughout the Chesapeake watershed.

Appearance

Virginia bluebells grow from one to two feet in height. Buds are small and pink. Flowers are about an inch long, blue and trumpet-shaped, formed from five attached petals. Leaves are green and oval-shaped, growing up to four inches in length. 

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Flowers bloom in March or April for around three weeks. Each flower has five stamens and one pistil. Virginia bluebells are not able to self-fertilize and must rely on pollinators. Because of the trumpet shape of the flowers, Virginia bluebells are most commonly pollinated by butterflies, which can land on the edge of the flower and reach the nectar. Bumblebees have to hover in front of the flower, making pollination more difficult. Fertilized plants produce around four seeds. In mid-summer, the foliage dies back and the plant goes dormant until the following years.

Did You Know?

  • Bluebells bloom in clusters. The oldest flower in the cluster is the one attached to the main stem.
  • The scientific genus name Mertensia comes from the German botanist Franz Carl Mertens.
  • Other names include Virginia cowslip, Roanoke bells and lungwort oysterleaf.

Sources and Additional Information

Quick Facts

  • Species

    Native

  • Habitat

    Virginia bluebells thrive in shady areas with moist soils, like woodlands or shaded floodplains. They do well when planted in large clumps.

  • Range

    Virginia bluebells can be found throughout the Chesapeake watershed.

  • Status

    Stable