Hydrophyllum virginianum

Woodland plant with white or pinkish bell-like flowers

Hydrophyllum virginianum Virginia waterleaf

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA

This rhizomatous perennial woodland plant is a member of the waterleaf sub-family in the family Boraginaceae. This group is supposedly named for the usually mottled appearance of the lower leaves that makes it appear they were stained by water.  In this species these spots appear in the earliest leaves of the spring and do not appear later in the season.

The Virginia waterleaf blooms from May until June. The plant produces delicate, white, blue or violet barrel-shaped flowers with five protruding stamens. The dense flower clusters are on long stalks high above the leaves. The flower buds are in coiled clusters that unroll as they bloom. Darker flowers exposed to sunlight may also bleach to a lighter shade quickly. Individual flowers are ¼ to ½ inch long. The corolla is five-lobed, with hairy filaments extending beyond the petals. This gives the flowers a fuzzy appearance.

The leaves are compound, with 5-7 sharply toothed sharply tipped lobes. A seed capsule eventually replaces the flower. It will split open to release the seeds. The plant can grow 1-3 feet high in rich woods and floodplains. Because it blooms in late spring when leaves are on the trees, it is shade tolerant. The stems are sparsely covered with minute hairs and are red at the joints. The plant can be found in the northeast and north central part of the United States from Western New England to North Dakota.  It grows in moist woods and clearings where there is some shade. It can spread by rhizome or by seed.

Contributed by: Mark Welchley

Common in moist woods, thickets, and stream banks.

Found in most counties of the state.

Range: From Mantoba to western New England and southward.

Wetland codes

Flowers May to June.

S-rank:  No rank
G-rank:  G5 (Secure)

Hydrophyllum virginianum Virginia waterleaf

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA
Hydrophyllum virginianum gallery
Plant Life-Form
perennial forb
Common Names
Virginia waterleaf john's-cabbage