Mertensia paniculata var. borealis (Aiton) G. Don (J.F. Macbr.) L.O. Williams
tall bluebells (northern bluebells)
Boraginaceae (Borage family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Ryan Batten     (Photo ID #23888)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Mertensia paniculata var. borealis
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Species Information

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

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.

Habitat and 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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia