Hydrophyllum virginianum (Virginia Waterleaf)
|Also known as:||Eastern Waterleaf|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; moist woods, floodplains|
|Bloom season:||May - June|
|Plant height:||12 to 30 inches|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers are in loose rounded clusters about 2 inches across at the end of a long naked stem. Individual flowers are tubular to bell-shaped, about ½ inch long, with 5 lobes and long protruding hairy stamens with pale yellow tips that turn brown with age. Flower color ranges from pale violet to pinkish to white. There are 5 long narrow sepals with feathery edges under the flower head. One plant has 1 or 2 clusters on a stem, and may have multiple stems.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are up to 6 inches long and 4 inches wide and deeply divided into 3, 5 or 7 lobes with coarsely toothed edges and sharply pointed tips, and are sometimes slightly hairy. Leaves often have scattered whitish spots on them but they fade with age. The main stem is also occasionally hairy, with the hairs flattened against the stem. The stem is purplish at the leaf nodes.
The common name “waterleaf” presumably comes from the whitish spots on the leaves, that resemble water stains. We came upon a wooded area on private property in Pope County that was completely carpeted with Virginia Waterleaf. The light was low but it was still quite a sight to behold. Hydrophyllum was in the Hydrophyllaceae (Waterleaf) family but this has been merged into Boraginaceae (Borage).
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Virginia Waterleaf plant
- more plants
- more flowers
- a colony of Virginia Waterleaf
- unusual white flowers
Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey and Chisago counties. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Pope, Hennepin and Anoka counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?