Mertensia virginica (L.) Pers. ex Link
* Handbuch 1:580. 1829
The Virginia Bluebell (Mertensia virginica; also Virginia Cowslip, Lungwort Oysterleaf, Roanoke Bells) is a spring ephemeral plant with bell-shaped sky-blue flowers opening from pink buds, native to moist woodland in eastern North America.
Leaves are rounded and gray-green, borne on a stem up to 60 cm (2 ft) high. 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. Buds are pink-tinged, changing to sky-blue as they open. White flowers occur rarely.
Stamen and pistil 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).
Source: Wikipedia, Wikispecies: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License