Ellisia nyctelea (Aunt Lucy)
|Also known as:||Waterpod|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; moist woods, thickets, along streams, open fields|
|Bloom season:||May - June|
|Plant height:||4 to 16 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FAC NCNE: FAC|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.
A single flower at the end of a hairy stem that arises opposite a leaf axil, or a few flowers in a loose cluster at the end of branching stems. Individual flowers are white or paled blue-violet, about ¼ inch across and less than ½ inch long, tubular with 5 rounded lobes. There are a few spots of purple on the inside of each lobe, and bluish purple lines along the length of the tube. The star-shaped bract behind the flower is very hairy and rather large compared to the flower.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are up to 4 inches long and 2 inches wide, bristly hairy, deeply divided into 7 to 13 narrow segments, each segment may be further lobed in 3 or 5 parts. Attachment near the base of the plant is opposite, but alternate in the upper part of the plant. The leaf stalk is densely hairy while the main stem may have just a few scattered bristly hairs.
Aunt Lucy flowers are pretty inconspicuous and can easily be missed but the leaves are fairly easy to spot. It may grow erect but is more often sprawling and likes disturbed soil. It is apparently adaptable, as well, as I came upon a colony of it with miniature leaves but full-sized flowers, growing along a dry railroad track. I thought it might be a different species but there is nothing else quite like it, so I believe it was just an adaptation to the dryness of the particular site. Ellisia was in the Hydrophyllaceae (Waterleaf) family but this has been merged into Boraginaceae (Borage).
Please visit our sponsors
Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Aunt Lucy plant
- plant just starting to bloom
- miniature Aunt Lucy with Annual Fleabane
- more plants
- Aunt Lucy raceme
Photos by K. Chayka taken at Battle Creek and Long Lake Regional parks, Ramsey County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?