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

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Allan Carson     (Photo ID #32357)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Mertensia paniculata var. paniculata
Click here to view the full interactive map and legend

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.


Ecological Framework for Mertensia paniculata var. 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)
1442 990 1890
Slope Gradient (%)
13 0 50

Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]

140 90 240
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
4 2 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
# of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class

All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in

BAFA(3), BWBS(3), ESSF(1), SWB(1)

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


Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Mertensia palmeri A. Nelson & J.F. Macbr.
Mertensia pilosa (Cham.) DC.