Hydrophyllum virginianum L.


Hydrophyllum virginianum plant

Family - Hydrophyllaceae

Stems - From rhizomes and fleshy roots, erect, herbaceous, multiple from the base, winged from decurrent leaf tissue, retrorse strigose on wing margins, purple at the nodes, to +/-60cm tall.

Hydrophyllum virginianum stemStem.

Leaves - Alternate, petiolate, deeply pinnatifid, with 3-5-7 lobes. Petioles reduced upward, those of basal leaves to +/-14cm long. Blade lobes coarse dentate, scabrous adaxially and deep green, appressed pubescent and silvery green abaxially, to +6cm long.

Hydrophyllum virginianum leaves

Inflorescence - Terminal scorpoid to capitate cyme. Peduncles to -10cm long, antrorse strigose. Pedicels to 5mm long, antrorse strigose.

Hydrophyllum virginianum inflorescenceInflorescence.

Flowers - Corolla white to pale lavender, deeply 5-lobed, glabrous externally. Corolla tube to 4mm long. Lobes oblong, 7mm long, 4mm broad. Fornices 6mm long, -1mm broad. Stamens 5, adnate at the base of the corolla tube, alternating with the corolla lobes. Filaments white basally, purple at the apex, with floccose hairs in the middle portion of their length, other wise glabrous, to 1.4cm long. Anthers purplish, 2.1mm long. Ovary superior, conic, 1.5mm long and in diameter, with dense erect white pubescence, unilocular. Placentation parietal. Style lilac, glabrous, 1.2cm long. Stigma whitish, 2-lobed. Calyx deeply 5-lobed. Calyx tube to 1mm long. Lobes linear, 1mm broad, 5-6mm long, ciliate and antrorse strigose.

Hydrophyllum virginianum calyxCalyces.

Hydrophyllum virginianum flowerFlower.

Hydrophyllum virginianum fruitsImmature fruits.

Flowering - April - July.

Habitat - Moist, rich, or low woods, thickets, ravine bottoms, base of bluffs, river flood plains, stream valleys.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This species can be found throughout much of Missouri but is mostly absent from the southeast corner of the state. This is an easy species to identify in the field because of its divided leaves and striking flowers held above the foliage.
The young leaves and shoots of this plant can be cooked and eaten. Natives used a root tea as an astringent for diarrhea and dysentery. The raw roots were chewed to treat mouth sores.
Missouri plants are ascribed to var. virginianum. Another variety (var. atranthum) having purple corollas is found in states to our southeast.

Photographs taken off the MKT Trail, Columbia, MO., 5-12-04 (DETenaglia); also at Shaw Nature Reserve, Franklin County, MO, 4-27-2010, and at Danville Conservation Area, Montgomery County, MO, 5-23-2018 (SRTurner).