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Virginia bunchflower

Veratrum virginicum

Veratrum virginicum

Coming in May!
Regular price $6.48 USD
Regular price Sale price $6.48 USD
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Size

Sun/shade: Full sun to part shade

Soil moisture: Medium to wet

Height: 5'

Spread: 1'

Flowering period: June

At the top of its tall stem, Virginia bunchflower holds its flowering branches skyward, its airy white blooms luminous in the early summer sun. Blooming from mid-June through mid-July, the flowers don’t rapidly wither like those of other plants at the end of their blooming interval. Rather, the petal-like sepals remain open and change color to green, followed sometimes by maroon and then black. Virginia bunchflower’s foliage consists of long, narrow, grass-like leaves primarily concentrated near the base of the plant. The lack of foliage along the plant’s stem accentuates its graceful height (up to 5’ tall), as well as the majestic flower cluster that forms at its apex.

In natural situations, Virginia bunchflower grows in wet environments, such as wet meadows, openings in wet woods, and groundwater-fed wetlands (fens). In the home landscape, the plant prefers soil moisture ranging from wet to average, and sunlight ranging from full exposure to part shade. Virginia bunchflower tolerates temporary standing water but may require watering during summer dry spells. The plant is not aggressive but holds its ground, usually forming a small colony by spreading via short rhizomes. Virginia bunchflower takes several years to develop to maturity and to begin flowering. With its glorious bloom and well-behaved manner, Virginia bunchflower is appropriate for formal as well as naturalized gardens, especially rain gardens and plantings in wet areas. To complement Virginia bunchflower’s white, early summer blossoms, plant Ohio spiderwort, early sunflower, scarlet beebalm, wild bergamot, and purple coneflower.

Virginia bunchflower’s blooms produce accessible nectar that attracts a curious assemblage of short-tongued pollinators, including beetles, hover flies, tachinid flies, blow flies, and small sweat bees. Among these, beetles are often the most abundant visitors, though researchers have found that small sweat bees are best at pollinating the plant. Virginia bunchflower is highly resistant to mammalian herbivory due to the presence of toxic compounds in its leaves, stems, and other parts.

Photos by Julie Slater.

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