Jacob’s Ladder

Polemonium 
or Greek Valerian

Jacob's ladder: flowers
Jacob’s ladder: lavender flowers

Jacob’s Ladder is a biblical reference to the story of Jacob, who dreamed of a ladder to heaven.  This plant’s leaves branch in an opposite fashion and appear like rungs on a ladder.  The small (1/2-inch) purple or bluish (lavender) flowers grow in clusters and have a bell-like shape with protruding stamens.  The plant grows in moist woods and along streams; in southern VIrginia it can be found flowering in April and May.

There is both a native Polemonium and an “escaped” Europeon variety that is widely found in wild places.  This plant was used historically to treat ailments of the respiratory system.

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