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Eastern Waterleaf Hydrophyllum virginianum

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
hy-droh-FIL-um vir-jin-ee-AY-num
Description

Eastern Waterleaf is a herbaceous perennial in the borage family that is native to the eastern USA. It is found in the Piedmont and mountains of NC and is found in moist to wet forests. It grows 1-2 feet tall and spreads by rhizomes and seeds forming large colonies. Blooming occurs in early spring to June with small bell-shaped flowers in clusters that attract bees. The young leaves have a mottled white pattern that later leaves do not have. 

Eastern Waterleaf prefers fertile moist well-drained soil in partial to full shade. This plant can make a care-free ground cover in shady woodland settings or the margins of ponds or streams. Foliage is occasionally browsed by deer.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • Var. atranthum
    Purple flowers
Var. atranthum
Tags:
#partial shade#white flowers#pink flowers#lavender flowers#groundcover#forests#spreads#food source summer#food source nectar#food source pollen#Piedmont Mountains FAC#Coastal FACW#shade#audubon#woodlands
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • Var. atranthum
    Purple flowers
Var. atranthum
Tags:
#partial shade#white flowers#pink flowers#lavender flowers#groundcover#forests#spreads#food source summer#food source nectar#food source pollen#Piedmont Mountains FAC#Coastal FACW#shade#audubon#woodlands
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Hydrophyllum
    Species:
    virginianum
    Family:
    Boraginaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Tea from the roots was used medicinally.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    U.S.A.
    Distribution:
    AR , CT , DC , DE , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , MA , MD , MI , MN , MO , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , SD , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
    Wildlife Value:
    Flowers attract bees
    Edibility:
    Young leaves may be used in salads
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 1 ft. 4 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Perennial
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Moist
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4b, 4a, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Rounded seed capsules split open to disperse seeds in July to August
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Bell
    Flower Description:
    Terminal cymes with 8-20 small lavender, pink or white bell-shaped flowers with extruded stamens. Blooms from March to June
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    White
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Pinnatifid
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    The oval to triangular leaves are up to 6" long and 4" across and are pinnately divided into 3-5 leaflets or deep lobes with coarsely toothed margins. The tips are acute. The early spring leaves have small patches of white scattered across the upper surfaces giving a watermark look.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    The stems are green, reddish-green, or reddish-brown, and they are glabrous to slightly hairy with hairs that are curved or appressed against their stems.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Pond
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Pollinator Garden
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Pollinators