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Alaska Wildflowers | Purple
Mertensia paniculata var. alaskana
Alaska tall bluebells
Mertensia paniculata var. eastwoodiae
Mertensia paniculata var. paniculata
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Genus: Mertensia Roth (bluebells)
Family: Boraginaceae (Borage family)
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Uses: The flower are edible raw and the leaves are edible raw or cooked
Identification and Information
The tall bluebell is a plant named after the shape and color of the flower produced. The bluebell has many long stems, branching off into several racemes of the hanging, funnel-like, tubular, blue-violet flower. The flowers form from pink buds and sometimes remain slightly pink. The tube of the flower is shorter than the bell. Flowers grow into a small, green fruit capsule.
The leaves are hairy and dark green. They are lanceolate and tapered, round at the base and 4-13 cm (1.5-5 in) in length. Basal leaves are larger than leaves higher up.
Distribution and Habitat
Mertensia paniculata is native to Alaska, most of Canada, and many northern lower 48 states. It’s mostly present in temperate forests in part shade or shade in moist soil.
Many similar flowers go by the common name bluebell, spanning numerous genera and extend over much of the northern hemisphere.
Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, Pratt, Verna E. pg 3
Mertensia paniculata (Aiton) G. Don, ITIS Database
Mertensia paniculata (Aiton) G. Don tall bluebells, USDA Database
Mertensia paniculata (Northern Bluebells), Minnesota Wildflowers: a field guide to the flora of Minnesota
Mertensia paniculata – (Aiton.)G.Don., Plants For A Future
*Diagram: Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York. Vol. 3: 83. Provided by Kentucky Native Plant Society