Polemonium reptans

Jacobs ladder
Lovely, pale blue flowers
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Polemonium reptans is a flowering plant, native to eastern North America.  Common names include Abscess Root, Creeping or Spreading Jacob's Ladder, False Jacob's Ladder.  It is a reliable clump former for the woodland garden, with lovely, sky-blue flowers. It is best grown in moist, humusy, well-drained soil in part shade. It tolerates full sun in cool summer climates. Although technically rhizomatous, plants do not creep as the common name somewhat erroneously suggests. Freely self-seeds in optimum growing conditions.

It typically grows in a mound to 12" (less frequently to 18") tall and features light blue, bell-shaped flowers (to 3/4" long) in loose, terminal clusters appearing on sprawling, weak stems in mid to late spring. The pinnately compound leaves with oval leaflets are arranged like the rungs of a ladder (hence the common name). Sometimes called Greek valerian.

The genus name comes from the Greek name polemonion originally applied to a medicinal plant associated with Polemon of Cappadocia and the specific epithet means creeping. Ther are no serious insect or disease problems.

The species grows best in partially shaded areas of the rock garden, naturalized areas, woodland gardens or native plant gardens.

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