Virginia Bluebells

Mertensia virginica

Virginia bluebells are also called Virginia cowslip, or Roanoke bells.  I first spotted them here in Blacksburg in a friend’s yard, but soon learned that this native wildflower grows extensively along the banks of streams and rivers in this part of Virginia, making it a riparian species.  Last year I saw them growing in profusion along the Roanoke River, near Bonners Mill in Shawsville.

The flower buds of Virginia bluebells are pink due to a chemical called anthocyanin.  When the flower is ready for pollination, it increases the alkalinity of the flower, changing the color to blue.  The combination of pink and blue flower clusters on a deep green plant make this plant a real show stopper in springtime.  These photos were taken in March and April.

Click on the photograph for a larger image.



8 Comments Add yours

  1. Beth F. says:

    Stunning photos… each one an invitation to meditation and gratitude! Thanks, Beth

    1. lookclosely says:

      Hi Beth,

      Thanks so much for looking at my wildflower blog! And thanks for your kind words: you’ve nailed why I do this!

      I enjoyed seeing you last week. Hope to see you again sometime this summer.


  2. Roger says:

    The best site I have saw for our (Roanoke\Montgomery) area and I have lived here 53years. Thank you !

  3. Jackie Hicks says:

    My mother and grandmother grew up in the Shawsville area. They always loved the Bluebells. Our mother passed away March 2017 . My sister and I live in Northern Virginia but would like to visit Shawsville when they are in full bloom in her honor. When do you anticipate they will be in full bloom ?

    Jackie Hicks
    April 3, 2018

    1. Gloria says:

      Hi Jackie,
      The weather has been impossible in Blacksburg. We’ve had more snow in the last few weeks than we had all winter. In my yard, the bluebells are up and the flower buds are forming but not open. I think you could plan to come down to Shawsville anytime in the next 2-3 weeks and see the bluebells. Hope you get to enjoy it. They are lovely along Bonner’s Run.

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