Named in honor of Mertens, a German botanist.

Perennial. In low meadows and along streams, often cultivated. Ontario to Minnesota, south to New Jersey, South Carolina, Nebraska, and Kansas. Frequent in northern Ohio. April, May.

Stem

Smooth, pale, erect, one to two feet high.

Leaves

Oblong or obovate, veiny, entire; the lower four to six inches long and narrowed into margined petioles.

Flowers

Showy, clustered, pinkish purple when opening, changing later to blue.

Calyx

Five-lobed; lobes oblong-lanceolate.

Corolla

Cylindric, trumpet-shaped, pendent, obscurely five-lobed, throat open, often with five ridges between the stamens.

Stamens

Five, inserted on the tube.

Pistil

Ovary four-divided; style threadlike.

Fruit

Four seed-like little nuts, wrinkled.

Pollinated by bees and butterflies. Nectar-bearing.

The brilliant blue blossoms of the Virginia Cowslip are very striking among their paler neighbors. The most interesting thing about these blossoms is their marked change in color; each little bell beginning life Mertensia Virginica a lovely pink-purple but becoming bright blue before ending it.

Bluebells.

Bluebells.

Virginia Cowslip has also the distinction of being the one smooth species in a family noted for the harsh, rough, hairy, and forbidding character of stem and leaves.