This section is from the book "Nature's Garden", by Neltje Blanchan. Also available from Amazon: Nature's Garden; An Aid To Knowledge Of Our Wild Flowers And Their Insect Visitors.
Flowers - White or purplish tinged, in a single or forking cluster on a long peduncle. Calyx deeply 5-parted, the spreading segments very narrow, bristly hairy. Corolla erect, bell-shaped, deeply 5-lobed; 5 protruding stamens, with soft hairs about their middle; 2 styles united to almost the summit. Stem: Slender, rather weak, 1 to 3 ft. long, leafy, sparingly branched, from a scaly rootstock. Leaves: Alternate, lower ones on long petioles, 6 to 10 in. long, pinnately divided into 5 to 7 oblong, sharply toothed, acute leaflets or segments; upper leaves similar, but smaller, and with fewer divisions.
Preferred Habitat - Rich, moist woods.
Flowering Season - May - August.
Distribution - Quebec to South Carolina, west to Kansas and Washington.
So very many flowers especially adapted to the bumblebee are in bloom when the cymes of the water-leaf uncoil, like the borages, from their immature roll, that some special inducement to attract this benefactor were surely needed. In high altitudes the clusters became deeper hued; but much as the more specialized bees love color, food appeals to them far more. Accordingly the five lobes of each little flower stand erect to increase the difficulty a short-tongued insect would have to drain its precious stores; the stamens are provided with hairs for the same reason; and even the calyx is bristly, to discourage crawling ants, the worst pilferers out. By these precautions against theft, plenty of nectar remains for the large bees. To prevent self-fertilization, pollen is shed on visitors, which remove it from a newly opened flower before the stigmas become receptive to any; but in any case these are elevated in maturity above the anthers, well out of harm's way.