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

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Bryan Kelly-McArthur     (Photo ID #65955)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Mertensia 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


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)
994 6 2440
Slope Gradient (%)
16 -2 262

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

191 0 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
4 0 8
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(66), BWBS(1120), ESSF(268), ICH(8), MS(3), SBPS(1), SBS(239), SWB(339)

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