This species was traditionally placed in the family Hydrophyllaceae. However, research in the early 21st century has recognized its close affinity with the family Boraginaceae and has demoted its rank to a subfamily of the Boraginaceae. We have adopted this treatment here, but some authorities have maintained the family Hydrophyllaceae as distinct and there is some chance that it will be reinstated[
Hydrophyllum atranthum Alexander
Hydrophyllum patens Britton
Hydrophyllum pinnatifidum Moench
Hydrophyllum spiraeifolium Salisb.
Hydrophyllum virginicum L.
Common Name: Virginia Waterleaf
Hydrophyllum virginianum is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.60 metres tall.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine
Eastern N. America - Manitoba to Quebec, south to Oklahoma, Tennessee and Pennsylvania
Rich woods and damp clearings[
Requires a moist humus-rich soil in semi-shade[
Slugs are particularly fond of this plant and will soon destroy it if given a chance[
Leaves - raw or cooked[
]. A bland flavour[
]. The mild-tasting and tender young leaves make a pleasant addition to the salad bowl[
], whilst older leaves make a good spinach[
]. Only use when young, they become bitter with age[
A tea made from the roots is astringent, it is used in the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery etc[
A decoction, or the chewed root, has been used as a wash for cracked lips and sore mouths[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. The seed usually germinates in early spring. Sow stored seed as early in the year as possible. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
Division in spring or autumn[
]. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.