perfoliate bellwort (Uvularia perfoliata)
SCIENTIFIC SYNONYMS: There are no scientific synonyms for
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Confirmation pending.
TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name for perfoliate bellwort is
Uvularia perfoliata L.
NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States and Canada.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Habit: This herbaceous perennial plant is about 1-2' tall. In mature plants, the central stem divides into 2 or 3 side stems, while immature plants usually remain undivided. The upper portion of each plant tends to nod downward because of the weight of the leaves and flowers. The terete stems are glabrous and glaucous; they are light green or pale reddish green. In mature plants, each side stem terminates with a single flower that has an elongated bell-like shape.
Leaves: The alternate leaves are up to 6" long and 2" across. They are oblong-ovate to elliptic, smooth along their margins, and parallel-veined. The base of each leaf is perfoliate – it completely surrounds the stem. The upper surface of each leaf is pale green to green and glabrous, while the lower surface is white to greenish white and finely short-pubescent (canescent).
Flowers: The flowers are about 1-2" long and they hang downward from slender pedicels about 1" long. The pedicels are similar to the stems, except they are more slender. Each flower consists of 6 pale yellow to yellow tepals, 6 stamens, and a pistil with a tripartite style. The slender tepals are slightly twisted and greenish toward the base of the flower, while their interior surface is smooth and hairless. The yellow anthers of the stamens are large and elongated, but they remain mostly hidden by the tepals. The flowers are slightly fragrant.
Fruit/Seeds: Each flower is replaced by a 3-celled seed capsule that is obovoid in shape with 3 rounded lobes and a rounded tip; each cell of this capsule contains several seeds.
Roots: The root system is rhizomatous, from which vegetative offsets are often produced. This plant occasionally forms colonies.
REGENERATION PROCESS: Perfoliate bellwort propogates itself by reseeding and through vegetative rhizomes.
HABITAT TYPES: Habitats include mesic deciduous woodlands, wooded slopes, large river banks in wooded areas, and edges of shady seeps. The presence of this plant in a deciduous woodlands is an indication that much of the original ground flora is still intact.
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Perfoliate bellwort prefers dappled sunlight during the spring and light shade during the summer. The soil should be moderately moist and loamy with a layer of decaying leaves. It is best to locate this plant underneath a deciduous tree that does not cast heavy shade during the summer.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The blooming period occurs during the mid-spring and lasts about 2 weeks.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Perfoliate bellwort is primarily distributed in the
southeastern states, extending north through the mid-Atlantic states to New England (absent from Maine) and naturally occurs only in one Canadian province - Ontario. It can be found in all the Gulf Coast states as far west as Texas. It does
not naturally occur in the mid-West, southwest, Rocky Mountain, or far west
or northwest states or provinces.
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: Bumblebees, mason bees (Osmia spp.), Halictid bees (Halictus spp., Lasioglossum spp.), and Andrenid bees (Andrena spp.) suck nectar or collect pollen from the flowers. The seeds are distributed by ants because of their attached elaiosomes (small food bodies). The foliage is heavily grazed by deer; this species declines in abundance when there is an overpopulation of deer in wooded areas. The foliage is probably vulnerable to other mammalian herbivores as well.
Native Americans used the root tea as a cough medicine, and for sore or inflamed mouth, gums and throat.
Crooked Run Valley