From the Greek, polemos, war.
Perennial. Alluvial bottoms. New York to Minnesota, south to Georgia and Kansas. Frequent in northern Ohio. April, May.
Smooth, branching, twelve to eighteen inches high, erect or declined; often stained at base.
Alternate, pin-nately divided, leaflets five to fifteen, opposite or irregular, ovate-lanceolate or oblong, entire, an inch or more long, acute; petiole winged.
Blue-violet bells in loose, few-flowered clusters, terminating the branches.
Bell-like, smooth, veiny, finally five-lobed.
Open bell, border five-lobed; lobes short, rounded.
Five, inserted on the tube of the corolla; declined, hairy at base.
Pistil - Ovary three-celled; style single; stigmas three.
Globose-oblong capsule, mostly three-seeded; seeds emit spiral threads when moistened.
By a curious interchange of terms, this plant has obtained the name of Greek Valerian, which probably it will always retain. Jacob's-Ladder is also without significance. Polemonium is referred in the books to the Greek, polemos, war, explained by Pliny as given to a certain plant for the reason that two ancient kings went to war because they could not agree which of them first discovered its virtues. The Latin name, reptans, suggests that it creeps - a thing it never does. The plant is a pretty little creature dwelling by choice in moist woods and by meadow runlets, but taking kindly to cultivation, and better known perhaps in the gardens than out of them. In color the flower-bells vary from bright blue to pure white, and, as the anthers are white, this gives the flower an unusual and delicate appearance. The ripe seed when moistened emits an innumerable number of spiral threads which to the naked eye appear like a thick mucus.
Greek Valerian. Polemonium reptans