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Mertensia ciliata

Mertensia ciliata

Mertensia ciliata (Fringed Bluebells)
Boraginaceae (Forget-Me-Not Family)

Montane, subalpine.  Streamsides.  Summer.
Upper Calico Trail, July 12, 2004.

Mertensia ciliata can be identified from afar because of its blue-green leaves. The blue-green appearance of the leaves is due to a glaucous coating, i.e., a waxy coating exuded by the leaf, similar to the coating found on new leaves of Colorado Blue Spruce and Engelmann Spruce and the coating on some plums. The second photograph at left shows rain drops on the waxy coating.

Like its close cousin M. franciscana, M. ciliata produces massive clusters of stems with numerous flowers.

"Ciliata" is from the Latin for "small hair" and it is most commonly used to indicate "small hairs along the margin of a leaf". Edwin James first named this plant Pulmonaria ciliata in 1825 and it was renamed Mertensia ciliata by Georg Don in 1838.

Mertensia ciliata
Mertensia ciliata (Fringed Bluebells)
Boraginaceae (Forget-Me-Not Family)

Montane, subalpine.  Streamsides.  Summer.
Upper Calico Trail, July 12, 2004.

Mertensia
Mertensia ciliata and Mertensia franciscana (Bluebells)
Boraginaceae (Forget-Me-Not Family)

Montane, subalpine.  Streamsides.  Summer.
Navajo Lake Trail, July 11, 2006.

Mertensia ciliata's blue-green fills the top half of the photograph, and Mertensia franciscana's light green fills the bottom half.  The bright white flowers are those of Geranium richardsonii

Mertensia ciliata

Mertensia ciliata

Mertensia ciliata (Fringed Bluebells)
Boraginaceae (Forget-Me-Not Family)

Montane, subalpine.  Streamsides.  Summer.
Sharkstooth Trail, August 24, 2011 and July 14, 2004.

The blue-green cast of Mertensia ciliata is distinctive.  The patch of M. ciliata shown in the top photograph at left is several hundred feet long in a low wet area.

The second photograph shows the same M. ciliata from the perspective of a hiker on the trail wading through the mass of three foot tall flowers heavy with perfume.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Mertensia ciliata

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