I’m not sure what’s going on here, whether it’s some kind of mutation or a result of weather or other kind of damage. On the right is a typical Virginia bluebell (Mertensia virginica). It has the typical salverform blossom, and 5 sepals in its calyx (the part that is circled).
On the left, the blossom is a lot more frilly. I counted 11 sepals in the calyx, but I think I might have torn one in half, and it’s actually 10. I’m starting to wonder if perhaps this is a tetraploid version, where it’s got double the usual amount of chromosones. When counting the sepals, I noticed the “regular” Virginia bluebells had swollen ovaries–seeds were starting to form. That wasn’t the case with the frilly bluebells.
Whatever it is, I have more than one plant like this. Both of the plants pictured are on the shady side of the house. The other plant is in the Secret Garden, but I think it came along with the Solomon’s seals I moved from the shady side of the house to the Secret Garden.
In 2003, I had one plant of Mountain Bells (Mertensia paniculata) from Judy Miller’s Paradise Gardens Rare Plant Nursery. It didn’t make it through the winter, so I just had it for that one season. I suppose there is a remote possibility that this is a hybrid between the two species.
Has anyone observed this in Virginia bluebells?