This is a rather floppy plant, although both the flowers and foliage are attractive. The bell-shaped flowers and compound leaves together provide Jacob's Ladder with a distinctive appearance. The only other species that resembles it, Polemonium vanbruntiae
(Greek Valerian), which is native to some of the Eastern States, doesn't occur in the wild in Illinois. This latter species is more erect in habit, and has slightly larger flowers with exerted stamens. These flowers are usually a darker shade of blue than those of Jacob's Ladder, and their anthers are often yellow, rather than white. The common name of Polemonium reptans
refers to the pairs of opposite leaflets on the compound leaves, which supposedly resemble a series of steps on a ladder in a dream by the biblical Jacob.