E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Mertensia paniculata (Aiton) G. Don
tall bluebells (panicled mertensia)
Boraginaceae (Borage family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Bryan Kelly-McArthur  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #65955)

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Distribution of Mertensia paniculata
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from a taproot and stout rhizome or branched base; stems several, erect or ascending, glabrous or hairy, 0.2-1.5 m tall.
Basal leaves long-stalked and more or less heart-shaped; stem leaves numerous, well-developed, mostly short-stalked, lanceolate to broadly egg-shaped with abruptly sharp-pointed tips, 3-15 cm long, 1-7 cm wide, becoming smaller and unstalked upward, with short, straight, appressed- or stiff-spreading hairs; entire, alternate.
Few to many in generally branched, compact to open terminal clusters, or with some solitary in leaf axils; corollas tubular bell-shaped, blue to pink (pink in bud), 9-19 mm long; petals fused below into a tube 5-8 mm long, flaring at top to bell-shaped limb (a bit longer than the tube) and 5 short lobes, with 5 bulges at the throat.
Nutlets 4, clustered together, 2.5-5 mm long, wrinkled.
Two varieties occur in BC:

1. Leaves straight appressed-hairy to spreading coarse-hairy on both surfaces; calyces hairy; plants infrequent to frequent throughout BC........................ var. paniculata

1. Leaves glabrous above; calyces glabrous; plants rare, known only from extreme SE BC.......................... var. borealis (J.F. Macbr.) L.O. Williams

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Wet to mesic meadows, streambanks and open forests in the montane, subalpine and alpine zones; frequent in N BC, infrequent southward; N to AK, YT, and NT, E to PQ and S to IA, MT, ID and OR.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Mertensia paniculata

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 6 994 2440
Slope Gradient (%) -2 16 262
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 191 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 4 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BAFA(66), BWBS(1120), ESSF(268), ICH(8), MS(3), SBPS(1), SBS(239), SWB(339)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is montane boreal & cool temperate.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References