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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Comments

This is a rather floppy plant, although both the flowers and foliage are quite 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 it has slightly larger flowers with exerted stamens. The flowers of this latter species are usually a darker shade of blue than those of Jacob's Ladder. 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.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Description

This herbaceous perennial plant is ½–1½' tall, branching occasionally. The leafy stems have a tendency to lean to one side or sprawl across the ground. The stems are light green to reddish green, glabrous to hairy, and often somewhat angular. The alternate compound leaves are simple odd-pinnate and up to 8" long, consisting of about 5-15 leaflets. The petioles and rachises of these compound leaves are light green to reddish green and glabrous to hairy; they are grooved above and convex below. The leaflets are ¾-1¼" long and about one-third as much across; they are elliptic to broadly elliptic-oblong, smooth (entire) along their margins, medium green, glabrous (or nearly so), and sessile (or nearly so). The upper stems terminate in rather loose panicles of floppy or nodding flowers spanning 1½-3" across. Some panicles are also produced from the axils of upper leaves on long peduncles up to 6" long. The pedicels are up to 1" long. Both the peduncles and pedicels of these panicles are light green to reddish green and glabrous to hairy. The campanulate (bell-shaped) flowers are up to 15 mm. (2/3") across. Each flower has 5 rounded petals that are light blue-violet, a short-tubular calyx with 5 triangular teeth, 5 stamens with white anthers, and a pistil with a slender white style that become tripartite toward its tip. The calyx is light green to reddish purple and glabrous to hairy. There are fine veins that run along the length of the petals. The stamens are the same length as, or shorter than, the petals of the flowers. The blooming period usually occurs during the late spring, lasting about 2-3 weeks. Afterwards, the flowers are replaced by 3-celled seed capsules; these capsules are about 6 mm. (¼") in length and ovoid in shape; they are few-seeded. The root system consists of a short vertical crown with abundant fibrous roots. This plant spreads by reseeding itself. Cultivation
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Jacob's Ladder is an occasional to locally common plant that occurs in most areas of Illinois, except for some counties in the central portion of the state (see Distribution Map). Habitats include deciduous woodlands, lower wooded slopes, bases of bluffs, shaded banks of streams and rivers, bottoms of sandstone canyons, and areas along woodland paths. Jacob's Ladder is found in higher quality natural habitats that are dominated by various deciduous trees. Faunal Associations
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Jacob's Ladder is an occasional to locally common plant that occurs in most areas of Illinois, except for some counties in the central portion of the state (see Distribution Map). Habitats include deciduous woodlands, lower wooded slopes, bases of bluffs, shaded banks of streams and rivers, bottoms of sandstone canyons, and areas along woodland paths. Jacob's Ladder is found in higher quality natural habitats that are dominated by various deciduous trees. Faunal Associations
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of Jacob's Ladder in Illinois

Polemonium reptans (Jacob's Ladder)
(Bees suck nectar or collect pollen; flies suck nectar or feed on pollen; other insects suck nectar; observations are from Robertson)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn cp fq; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus auricomus sn, Bombus bimaculatus sn, Bombus griseocallis sn fq, Bombus impatiens sn fq, Bombus pensylvanica sn fq, Bombus vagans sn, Psithyrus variabilis sn; Anthophoridae (Anthophorini): Anthophora ursina sn; Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina calcarata sn, Ceratina dupla dupla sn fq; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Synhalonia belfragii sn cp fq, Synhalonia speciosa sn fq; Anthophoridae (Nomadini): Nomada affabilis sn, Nomada hydrophylli sn fq, Nomada ovatus sn; Megachilidae (Osmiini): Hoplitis pilosifrons sn, Osmia atriventris sn, Osmia conjuncta sn cp fq, Osmia lignaria lignaria sn, Osmia pumila sn cp fq

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon sericea sn, Augochlora purus purus sn cp fq, Augochlorella aurata sn, Augochlorella striata sn cp fq, Halictus rubicunda sn cp, Lasioglossum coreopsis sn cp, Lasioglossum coriaceus sn cp, Lasioglossum obscurus sn, Lasioglossum pilosus pilosus sn cp, Lasioglossum versatus sn; Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena carlini sn, Andrena distans sn, Andrena geranii sn fq, Andrena nasonii cp, Andrena polemonii sn cp olg, Andrena sayi sn cp

Flies
Syrphidae: Pipiza femoralis fp np, Rhingia nasica sn fp, Toxomerus marginatus fp np; Empididae: Empis pudica sn; Bombyliidae: Bombylius major sn

Butterflies
Pieridae: Colias philodice fq

Skippers
Hesperiidae: Erynnis brizo, Erynnis juvenalis fq

Moths
Sphingidae: Hemaris thysbe; Noctuidae: Anagrapha falcifera fq

Beetles
Coccinellidae: Coleomegilla maculata; Pyrochroidae: Pedilus terminalis

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Polemonium reptans

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Polemonium reptans

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Wikipedia

Polemonium reptans

Polemonium reptans is a flowering plant in the genus Polemonium, native to eastern North America. Common names include Abscess Root, Creeping or Spreading Jacob's Ladder, False Jacob's Ladder, American Greek Valerian, Blue bells, Stairway to Heaven, and Sweatroot.

Growth[edit]

It is a perennial herbaceous plant growing to 50 cm tall, with pinnate leaves up to 20 cm long with 5–13 leaflets. The flowers are blue to violet, 1.3 cm long, with a five-lobed corolla.

Characteristics[edit]

The dried roots have a slightly bitter and acrid taste. The root is rarely used in modern herbalism. It is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use.

Range and habitat[edit]

Polemonium reptans is typically found in rich, moist woods, often along streambanks.[1][2] It range extends from Minnesota to New Hampshire in the north, and from Georgia to Mississippi in the south.[2] It is most abundant west of the Appalachian Mountains.[1][2]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Carman, Jack B. (2001). Wildflowers of Tennessee. Highland Rim Press. p. 206. 
  2. ^ a b c Horn, Dennis; Tavia Cathcart (2005). Wildflowers of Tennessee, the Ohio Valley, and the Southern Appalachians. Edmonton: Lone Pine Publishing. p. 243. ISBN 1551054280. 
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