Mertensia virginica (common names Virginia bluebell, Virginia cowslip, lungwort oysterleaf, Roanoke bells) is a species of flowering plant in the family Boraginaceae, native to moist woodland in eastern North America. It is a spring ephemeral plant with bell-shaped sky-blue flowers opening from pink buds. The leaves are rounded and gray-green, borne on stems up to 60 cm (24 in) tall. They are petiolate at the bottom of the flower stem and sessile at the top.
Flowers with five petals fused into a tube, five stamens, and a central pistil (carpel) are borne in mid-spring in nodding cymes at the end of arched stems. White flowers occur rarely.
The stamens and stigma are spaced too far apart for self-fertilization. The flower can be pollinated by bumblebees but, due to its funnel shape bumblebees must hover, making the bumblebee a rare pollinator. Butterflies are the most common pollinators because they can easily perch on the edges and still enjoy the nectar.
In early summer, each fertilized flower produces four seeds within wrinkled nuts, and the plant goes dormant till the next spring.
Plants are hardy to hardiness zone 3 - −40 �C (−40 �F)
April 19th, 2015
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