Plants and Animals

Mertensia virginica Virginia bluebells

species photo
MNFI Staff
species photo
Ryan P. O'Connor
species photo
Ryan P. O'Connor
species photo
Ryan P. O'Connor
species photo
Brad Slaughter

Key Characteristics

Large branching forb of floodplain forests; leaves broadly elliptical with smooth margins and rounded tips, glabrous; flowers blue and bell-shaped.

Status and Rank

US Status:
State Status: E - Endangered (legally protected)
Global Rank: G5 - Secure
State Rank: S1S2 - Rank is uncertain, ranging from critically imperiled to imperiled

Occurrences

CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Calhoun11888
Eaton11888
Kent72017
Lenawee11987
Muskegon12011
Ottawa52016
Wexford11961

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.

Habitat

Virginia bluebells occurs in first and second bottoms of riparian forests in southern Lower Michigan.

Natural Community Types

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Associated Plants

Silver maple, black maple, sycamore, hackberry, cottonwood, blue-beech, red ash, beech, sugar maple, basswood, spicebush, poison ivy, wild ginger, false rue anemone, toothwort, false mermaid, Canada waterleaf, green dragon, jack-in-the-pulpit, and creamy white violet.

Management Recommendations

Conserve hydrology of river system and corresponding cyclical floodplain regime. Maintain healthy intact, mature floodplain forests and minimize forest fragmentation. When possible, leave large tracts of unharvested forests and allow natural processes to operate unhindered.

Survey Methods

Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgment of the investigator.

  • Meander search

    • Survey Period: From third week of April to fourth week of May

      Survey Method Comment:
      Restricted to floodplain forests

References

Survey References

  • Elzinga, C.L., D.W. Salzer, and J.W. Willoughby. 1998. Measuring and Monitoring Plant Populations. The Nature Conservancy and Bureau of Land Management, Denver. BLM Technical Reference 1730-1. 477pp.
  • Goff, G.F., G.A. Dawson, and J.J. Rochow. 1982. Site examination for Threatened and Endangered plant species. Environmental Management 6(4): 307-316
  • Nelson, J.R. 1984. Rare Plant Field Survey Guidelines. In: J.P. Smith and R. York. Inventory of rare and endangered vascular plants of California. 3rd Ed. California Native Plant Society, Berkeley. 174pp.
  • Nelson, J.R. 1986. Rare Plant Surveys: Techniques For Impact Assessment. Natural Areas Journal 5(3):18-30.
  • Nelson, J.R. 1987. Rare Plant Surveys: Techniques for Impact Assessment. In: Conservation and management of rare and endangered plants. Ed. T.S. Elias. California Native Plant Society, Sacramento. 8pp.

Technical References

  • Cooperrider, T.S. 1995. The Dicotyledonae of Ohio Part 2. Linaceae through Campanulaceae. Ohio State University Press, Columbus. 656pp.
  • Gleason, H. A., and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second edition. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. 910pp.
  • Godfrey, R.K. and Wooten. 1981. Aquatic and Wetland Plants of Southeastern United States. Dicotyledons. University of Georgia Press, Athens. 712pp.
  • Gray, A. 1950. Gray's Manual of Botany; eighth ed. Van Nostrand Reinghold, New York. 1632pp.
  • Holmgren, N.H. 1998. Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the vascular plants of Northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. 937pp.
  • Swink, F. and G. Wilhelm. 1994. Plants of the Chicago Region, 4th ed. Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis. 921pp.
  • Voss, E.G. 1996. Michigan Flora. Part III. Dicots (Pyrolaceae-Compositae). Bulletin of the Cranbrook Institute of Science and University of Michigan Herbarium. 622pp.