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Polemonium reptans

Polemonium reptans L.

 

Spreading Jacob’s Ladder, Creeping Jacob’s Ladder, False Jacob’s Ladder, Abscess Root, American Greek Valerian, Blue Bells, Stairway to Heaven, Sweatroot

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderEricalesTea, persimmon, blueberry, Brazil nut, azalea, many others
FamilyPolemoniaceaePhlox, Jabob’s-ladder
GenusPolemoniumGreek herbalist and healer Polemon of Cappadocia may be the source of this name
SpeciesreptansHaving creeping and rooting stems

About plant names...

Spreading Jacob’s ladder is a North American native. It prefers partial shade and rich, moist woods, and is often found along streambanks. The common name “Jacob’s ladder” refers to the neat pairs of opposite leaflets in the compound leaves, resembling a series of steps on a ladder, from a dream by the biblical Jacob.

Plants: These perennials are 6-18" (15-45 cm) tall, and somewhat branched. The rather weak stems sag under the weight of the leaves, sprawling across the ground. They are light or reddish green, somewhat angular, and hollow.

Leaves: Leaves are odd-pinnate and alternate, with 7-17 leaflets. Leaflets are ¾-1¼" (1.9-3.2 cm) × ¼-⅜" (6.3-10 mm), and oval-shaped (elliptic) to lance-shaped (lanceolate). Lower leaflets are attached by stems (petioles), but the stems shorten and disappear in the upper leaflets.

Flowers: Loose “blobs” or panicles of flowers are 1½-3" (3.8-7.6 cm) across. Additional groups of flowers are sometimes produced from leaf axils, and may be up to 6" (15 cm) long. Each flower is light blue, bell-shaped, with five petals fused at the base, and up to ⅝" (1.6 cm) across. (Rarely, flowers are lavendar, pink, purple, or white.) Flowers appear April-June.

Online References:

Polemonium reptans on missouriplants.com

Polemonium reptans on illinoiswildflowers.info

Polemonium reptans at Minnesota Wildflowers

Polemonium reptans on Discover Life

Polemonium reptans at the Michigan Natural Features Inventory

Polemonium reptans on www.lakeforest.edu

References:

Clemants, Steven; Gracie, Carol, Wildflowers in the Field and Forest, Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 30

Polemonium reptans (Spreading Jacob’s Ladder, Creeping Jacob’s Ladder, False Jacob’s Ladder, Abscess Root, American Greek Valerian, Blue Bells, Stairway to Heaven, Sweatroot)

5/14/2012 · Acton Arboretum, Acton, MA
≈ 14 × 9" (35 × 23 cm)

Polemonium reptans (Spreading Jacob’s Ladder, Creeping Jacob’s Ladder, False Jacob’s Ladder, Abscess Root, American Greek Valerian, Blue Bells, Stairway to Heaven, Sweatroot)

5/14/2013 · Beaver Brook Assn Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, NH
≈ 7 × 4½" (18 × 12 cm)

Polemonium reptans description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 7 Jul 2017.

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Polemonium reptans (Spreading Jacob’s Ladder, Creeping Jacob’s Ladder, False Jacob’s Ladder, Abscess Root, American Greek Valerian, Blue Bells, Stairway to Heaven, Sweatroot)

5/14/2012 · Acton Arboretum, Acton, MA
≈ 6 × 4" (15 × 10 cm)

Polemonium reptans (Spreading Jacob’s Ladder, Creeping Jacob’s Ladder, False Jacob’s Ladder, Abscess Root, American Greek Valerian, Blue Bells, Stairway to Heaven, Sweatroot)

5/14/2013 · Beaver Brook Assn Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, NH
≈ 6 × 4½" (15 × 11 cm)

Polemonium reptans (Spreading Jacob’s Ladder, Creeping Jacob’s Ladder, False Jacob’s Ladder, Abscess Root, American Greek Valerian, Blue Bells, Stairway to Heaven, Sweatroot)

5/14/2012 · Acton Arboretum, Acton, MA
≈ 15 × 10" (39 × 26 cm)

Polemonium reptans (Spreading Jacob’s Ladder, Creeping Jacob’s Ladder, False Jacob’s Ladder, Abscess Root, American Greek Valerian, Blue Bells, Stairway to Heaven, Sweatroot)

5/14/2013 · Beaver Brook Assn Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, NH
≈ 4½ × 4½" (11 × 11 cm)

Polemonium reptans (Spreading Jacob’s Ladder, Creeping Jacob’s Ladder, False Jacob’s Ladder, Abscess Root, American Greek Valerian, Blue Bells, Stairway to Heaven, Sweatroot)

5/14/2013 · Beaver Brook Assn Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, NH
≈ 7 × 6" (17 × 14 cm)

Range: Zones 3-8:

About this map...