Flora Pittsburghensis.

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica).

Mertensia virginica

Family Boraginaceae (Borage or Forget-Me-Not family).

The distinctive arch of the stem marks this as a member of the borage or forget-me-not family. Virginia bluebells bloom in late April and early May in open woodlands and shady moist areas. They are, as the name suggests, commonly blue. But in a large patch you may find other colors occasionally as well: pale lavender, pink, pale purple, and pure white.

Mertensia virginica, pink

Mertensia virginica, white

Mertensia virginica, lavender
Mertensia virginica

Gray describes the genus and the species (though he seems not to have run across any pink flowers):


Corolla longer than the deeply 5-cleft or 5-parted calyx, naked, or with 5 small glandular folds or appendages in the open throat. Anthers oblong or arrow-shaped. Style long and thread-form. Nutlets ovoid, fleshy when fresh, smooth or wrinkled, obliquely attached by a prominent internal angle; the scar small. Smooth or soft-hairy perennial herbs, with pale and entire leaves, and handsome purplish-blue (rarely white) flowers, in loose and short panicled or corymbed raceme-like clusters, only the lower one leafy-bracted; pedicels slender. (Named for Franz Karl Mertens, a German botanist.)

Corolla trumpet-shaped, with spreading nearly entire limb and naked throat; filaments slender, exserted; hypogynous disk 2-lobed.

M. virginica (L.) Link. (VIRGINIAN COWSLIP, BLUEBELLS.) Very smooth, pale, erect, 2-6 dm. high; leaves obovate, veiny, those at the root 1-1.5 dm. long, petioled; corolla trumpet-shaped, 2-2.5 cm. long, many times exceeding the calyx, light blue (pinkish in bud), rarely white; nutlets dull and roughish. Alluvial banks, N. Y. and Ont. to Neb., and southw. Apr., May.

Mertensia virginica

Mertensia virginica

Mertensia virginica

Still want more bluebells? We have added a second page of pictures to avoid weighing down this one too much.

Family Boraginaceae (Forget-Me-Not Family).   |   Index of Families.