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

Mertensia maritima (L.) Gray
sea bluebells (oysterleaf; sea-lungwort; sea-mertensia)
Boraginaceae (Borage family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jocie Ingram  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #282)

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Distribution of Mertensia maritima
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Mertensia maritima var. asiatica

Species Information

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Perennial herb from a taproot and branched, often subterranean stem-base; glabrous throughout; stems several to many, sprawling to decumbent, 10-70 cm long.
Fleshy, with whitish bloom, spoon-shaped to elliptic or egg-shaped, abruptly sharp-pointed, the lower leaves stalked, the others becoming smaller and nearly unstalked upward, entire, mostly alternate in two rows.
Several to many in compact to open clusters, or solitary in leaf axils; corollas tubular bell-shaped, blue or blue-purple, rarely white, sometimes pink in bud, 3-8 mm long; petals fused at base into a short (1-3 mm) tube, with 5 bulges at the throat, flaring at top to a limb and 5 lobes, the limb longer than the tube.
Nutlets 4, clusterd together, 2.5-4 (6) mm long, smooth or slightly wrinkled, flattened, somewhat fleshy, the outer coat becoming inflated and spongy.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Moist sandy or gravelly beaches in the lowland zone; rare in W BC, known only from the Queen Charlotte Islands; circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT and E to NF, N Europe, E Asia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


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 not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References