The Latin name, Mertensia, was given to this plant by Carolus Linnaeus in honor of the German botanist Franz Mertens. The specific epithet refers to the colony of Virginia.
These herbaceous plants grow best in moist, rich, and loamy soils. They can be found in upland forests, floodplain forests, wetlands and bluffs. These plants prefer slight to full shade. The single stem begins curled in shape and extends as it grows into an elegant arch to hold to blossom cluster. The leaves are alternately located around a thin, smooth stem attached by petioles near the base, but as you move upward towards the flower cluster, the leaves are simply attached straight to the stem. The leaves are oval-shaped with pinnately-simple venation. The blossom cluster is located above the simple leaves. Flowering occurs in spring from March to May.
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