Hydrophyllum appendiculatum (Appendaged Waterleaf)

Plant Info
Also known as: Great Waterleaf
Family:Boraginaceae (Borage)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; rich woods
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:1 to 2 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: bell Cluster type: panicle

[photo of flowers] Loose clusters 2 to 3 inches across of pinkish purple to lavender flowers at the tips of stems and branches that arise above the leaves. The terminal flowers in the cluster open first (cyme). Flowers are ½ to ¾ inch across, saucer to bell shaped, with 5 oval petals fused at the base, 5 slender white stamens with dark purplish tips.

[photo of calyx] Calyx and stalks are hairy, the 5 calyx lobes narrowly triangular and about 2/3 as long as the petals, with small, folded back appendages alternating with the lobes.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are simple and alternate, oval to round in outline. Lower leaves are 2 to 6 inches long and wide, on a long stalk with 5 to 7 dominant lobes and shallower lobes along the edges, all lobes pointed at the tip with shallow, irregular teeth around the edges. Upper leaves are reduced in size, often just 3 shallow lobes. Upper leaf surface is covered with soft scattered hairs. Stems are weak and covered in long hairs, the mass of branches often supported by surrounding vegetation.


Hydrophyllum appendiculatum inhabits shady, moist ravines and is common in stream valleys of Minnesota's southeast driftless region. Late May to early June is a good time to search for this in Whitewater State Park in Winona County. It is easy to distinguish from the related Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum) by the leaf shape and the small reflexed appendages on the calyx.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken along Beaver Creek in the Whitewater Management Area in Winona county.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Carole - Southern Ramsey County
on: 2015-05-15 12:07:47

I just saw this at the Ramsey County Parks and Rec portion of Fish Creek.

Posted by: Nancy - Minneopa State Park
on: 2016-05-23 15:14:47

We saw lots of this in the gorge below Minneopa Falls (Mankato) yesterday.

Posted by: Brian - Rice County
on: 2016-06-01 20:34:31

There were large numbers of plants of this species beginning to bloom at Cannon River Trout Lily SNA in Rice County about a week ago (May 24). Companion plants included Virginia Waterleaf (H. virginianum).

Posted by: Sunshine - Plymouth
on: 2021-05-22 08:51:10

Saw these for the first time by a runoff pond in our neighborhood. I'm delighted!

Posted by: Diana Prince - Beaver Creek Valley State Park
on: 2021-05-28 14:37:11

I saw both Appendaged Waterleaf and Virginia Waterleaf blooming in Beaver Creek Valley State Park May 27, 2021

Posted by: LaVone Schnabel - Lake Marie, Wright County
on: 2022-06-05 14:22:29

Blooming in a woods adjacent to Lake Marie. June 4th, 2022.

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