By MaryAnn Fink, Pollinator Junction, LIFE Exhibit Curator
Virginia Bluebells ( Mertensis virginica)
This spring woodland flower’s crystal blue flowers are easy on the eyes!
This “Lady of the bells” chooses to live in a woodland setting where she rises up with a big yawn, a cluster of perfect apple green leaves at her feet and arms loaded with pink and blue blossoms.
It does take a few chilling Spring rains tapping her on her sleepy underground head before she’s fully awake and flower-filled but when she is, she’s AMAZING!
Her leafy fists are filled with down turned clusters of petite nectar goblets. She’s like a fairy’s maid who’s cleaning up fancy party glasses after an all night fairy festival!
In reality, this beauty’s sweetness is a delight most enjoyed from sunrise to sunset by many daytime pollinators.
The early and lonely queen bumble bees seeks Virginia’s cups of nectar as if her very survival depends on it-and it does! The delightful nectar moths unroll their “drinking straws” to reach to the sweetest depth and if the timing falls just right, an early hummingbird or two are sure to stop to take a sip too!
This pretty cup bearer belongs to the same huge botanical family name Boraginaceae, which of course includes the herb Borage.
It’s fun to know that Virginia m. is also related to a couple other well known true-blue flowers such as the annual For-get-me-nots (Myosotis) and the easy to grow and love as the famous tea, Comfrey (Symphytum).
Virginia mertensis is happiest when in a moist filtered light location in the spring as she is flowering but of course in the woods, light levels drop once all the trees put on their leaves. She’s fine with that because she actually fades away by the end of spring to the point of completely dormant till Spring’s next nectar party!