October 31, 2016

Plant of the Month: Virginia Waterleaf

opening
Hydrophyllum virginianum in springtime

I noticed a few patches of Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum) in our woodland the other day--not the spring flowers, but the foliage.

autumn wet  year
Hydrophyllum virginianum this fall

Normally they'd be dormant by now in my climate--either dried by parched late-summer days or liquefied by autumn frost. Neither has happened here ... yet.

It's been unseasonably warm and rainy through September and October. We still haven't had a frost (although some areas nearby have had a very light one). In any case, the Virginia Waterleaf is still green.

flowers and foliage

In the spring and summer, it's a hearty and hardy woodland garden plant. Some consider it a little "weedy," but our woodland is a bit wild. We tend to take a "hands-off" approach in this part of the property--removing only non-native invasive plants.

Virginia Waterleaf has a welcome home in the woodland and the woodland edge. It's a good placeholder to compete with Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata), which is a non-native invasive that would take over the woods if not removed.

wildflower patch

Virginia Waterleaf is a natural, pleasant companion to Trilliums, ferns, and other woodland plants. It's a fascinating little plant, really.

spring

buds

flowers

seeds

From emergence to bud, to bloom to seed, and beyond.

foliage and bud

The name comes from the water-drop-like marks on the foliage.

Its native distribution extends through eastern North America--from Quebec to Manitoba, south through the Carolinas and west to Kansas, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Growing conditions include:

  • Prefers part shade or shade;
  • Thrives in rich, mesic soils;
  • Spreads via rhizomes and seeds; and
  • Is hardy in USDA zones 4-9.

tight buds

I find the tight buds particularly enchanting.

hairy flowers

The five-petal flowers with hairy stamens and sepals are quite whimsical, and they welcome pollinators during their brief bloom time. The color ranges from white to a light lavender hue.

circular

Over the years, my appreciation has grown for this fluffy native plant with "water-stained" foliage.

(Linking to Gail's Wildflower Wednesday, a few days late.)

29 comments:

  1. Ah. love the green pics. Envious of your rain!

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    1. Thanks, and gosh we've had so much rain (not complaining) I would gladly share some! I hope you get plenty of precipitation in the days ahead.

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  2. How pretty! This is a totally new to me plant that I had never heard of before. I loved the photo of the waterleaf mixed with the trilliums and ferns at the foot of the tree - such a beautiful, natural co-mingling of plants.

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    1. I discovered it about a decade ago in the woodland. I actually think the foliage is more interesting than the flowers--until you get up close to the flowers. Their form is rather unusual, too. And it does mix well with the other woodland plants.

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    1. Thank you, Summer! It is a lovely plant.

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  4. It's beautiful -- especially in your photos! I hadn't heard the explanation for the name ... makes sense :-)

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    1. Thanks, Hollis. I thought I had some photos of the bumble bees on it, but all I could find in my files was the one with the scape moth. Yes, the leaves of this plant are unique!

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  5. delicately beautiful leaves, and I love the Trilliums!

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    1. The foliage is fun and the flowers are pretty, too. And it's a very good companion for the Trilliums, which naturally occur, but which we want to encourage here! :)

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  6. I love your photos, Beth! I have a clump of this on the east side of our house, and deadhead them so they don't spread too far. I miss a few here and there, though.

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    1. Thank you, Sue. I don't have any near the house, but they're certainly plentiful in the woods! That's a good idea to deadhead them if you don't want them to spread too much. I wonder if they'd be good cut flowers? I'm guessing not, because the flowers don't last long. But maybe if I cut them in the late bud phase? I'll have to try it next spring! :)

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  7. Just beautiful! And, is your garden still thriving even though it's autumn? I still have some summer plants that are giving all they've got! Oh, but the colors of fall, how enchanting they've been! Thank you for visiting my blog post!

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    1. Thanks! Yes, I still have Zinnias, Cosmos, Pentas, and other annuals blooming. The Blue Mistflower has a few blooms, too. Today was an amazingly colorful, comfortable, and beautiful day here--73F, light breeze, and the Oaks and many of the Maples were at their peak of bright color! I agree: Autumn at its best is pretty awesome!

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  8. What a lovely little bloom! I've heard of the wildflower before, but didn't know much about it. Anything that can compete with garlic mustard is a winner in my book!

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    1. Yes, re: the Garlic Mustard! The flower of V. Waterleaf was never a favorite, until this year. For some reason, they seemed so healthy and bright, and not quite as messy as I remember them. I love the foliage, though--particularly when it first emerges in the spring.

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  9. The close-up shot reveals details it would be easy to miss...as is true of so many wildflowers.

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    1. Yes, I agree. Sometimes from a distance, they can seem underwhelming (some wildflowers, anyway). But if you examine them closely, they're incredibly fascinating.

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  10. I'm not familiar with this wildflower. Thanks for sharing about it. Interesting to see a plant with natural variegation. Great photos as always.

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    1. You are welcome, and thank you! The foliage is particularly interesting, in my opinion. The flowers are kinda unique, too.

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  11. I consider this a hideous monster in my garden so it was a bit of an education to realize not everone may see it that way.

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    1. Oh, that's too bad. I admit, it wasn't a favorite for me until recently--when I realized its value to pollinators. Also, it helps me fight Garlic Mustard in the woodland. This summer I even found the blooms strangely beautiful. I've always enjoyed the foliage, though--especially in the springtime when it first emerges. :)

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  12. I too have it still peeking up here and there. It is such an unusual summer/fall this year. Record high temps, low rain fall. What will winter bring?? We will just have to wait and see.

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    1. Yes, the weather is crazy! I find it fascinating, though, that you've had limited rainfall and we've had plenty--even though we don't live far apart. Gosh, I'm kind of afraid to think about what this winter will bring!

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  13. I have seen this one in the woods on one of our favorite hiking trails in the Blue Hills.

    Can you believe this Wisconsin weather? 61 degrees November 1st! I just planted a garlic garden. ;-)
    I have been busy planting spring bulbs. I also started a new peony garden.
    I still would like to do some more, so I am giddy about our Wisconsin forecast for this week. :-)

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    1. I enjoy seeing V. Waterleaf in the woods during hikes! We hit 73F today! It was so comfortable, I had the windows open most of the day. And I even sat on the front porch for a while--a little treat for myself after raking Oak leaves for a couple of hours. So many more leaves to rake!! But the weather and the forecast are awesome!

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  14. I hadn't heard of this one before - it's quite pretty! I love seeing native woodland blooms. What an unusual year for weather it's been.

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  15. Really wonderful post . . .
    With your photo touch!

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  16. How pretty, it is a new one to me.

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