Mertensia virginica (Virginia bluebell, Virginia cowslip, lungwort, oysterleaf, Roanoke bells) is in the family Boraginaceae (same family as comfrey and forget-me-not), native to moist woodland in eastern North America. It is a spring ephemeral plant with bell-shaped sky-blue flowers opening from pink buds. The leaves are rounded and gray-green, borne on stems up to 60 cm (24 in) tall. They are petiolate at the bottom of the flower stem and sessile at the top. This is one of our few native blue wildflowers! It is tolerant of sun or shade, and is deer resistant - they don't like it. But you will, as it grows into larger and more beautiful clumps, and reseeds.
Flowers have five petals fused into a tube, five stamens, and a central pistil (carpel) borne in mid-spring in nodding cymes at the end of arched stems. White flowers occur rarely.
Stamen and pistil are spaced too far apart for self-fertilization. The flower can be pollinated by bumblebees, but due to its funnel shape, bumblebees must hover, making the bumblebee a little tired. Butterflies are the most common pollinators if temperatures are warm enough, because they can easily perch on the edges and still enjoy the nectar.
In early summer, each fertilized flower produces four seeds within wrinkled nutlets, and the plant goes dormant until the next spring. A beauty to behold in the early spring!