Mountain Bluebells
Mertensia ciliata
(James ex Torr.) G. Don
Family: Boraginaceae, Borage
Genus: Mertensia

General: perennial, stems numerous from a branched,
woody base, 15-150 cm tall. Herbage hairless, or the leaves
often with flat, stiff, short hairs, especially beneath.
Leaves: evidently veined, the basal ones, when present,
elliptic to ovate, generally not heart-shaped, long-stalked.
Stem leaves alternate, only slightly reduced upward,
narrowly elliptic or lance-elliptic to narrowly ovate, 3-15 cm
long, 1-5 cm wide, tapering to the base, the lower stalked.
Flowers: blue, nodding, several in branched, open
clusters. Calyx 1-3 mm long, cleft almost to the base, the
lobes with rounded tip. Corolla 10-17 mm long, the limb 0.8-
1.2 times as long as the tube, the tube with, or more often
without, a ring of hairs below the middle within. Filaments
attached at or shortly below the level of the fornices, broad
and conspicuous, 1.5-3 mm long, anthers 1.2-2.2 mm long.
Styles elongate, often shortly protruding from the corolla.
Flowering time: June-August.
Fruits: nutlets, in fours, wrinkled, 2.5-5 mm long.

Stream banks, wet meadows, damp thickets, and wet cliffs,
foothills to subalpine zone, in w. and c. parts of MT. Also
from CO, n. NM and CA to ID and OR.

Edible and medicinal plant: see below.
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Edible Uses:
The flowers of mountain bluebells are edible raw. The leaves are edible raw or cooked. However, the leaves are rather hairy and are not too palatable when eaten raw.

Medicinal Uses:
Mountain bluebells was used medicinally by the Cheyenne Indians. An infusion of leaves was taken for smallpox and measles. And infusion of the whole plant was taken by women after childbirth to increase milk flow. An infusion of powdered roots was taken for itching from smallpox.

Our plants as described above belong to the var. ciliata (James ex Torr.) G. Don.

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