Waterleaf. 2021. Gouache & walnut ink.

Our house was vacant for a few years before we purchased it and many plants had found their way into the flower beds to fill in the lack of annual planting the previous owners enjoyed. Waterleaf, Day Flowers, and Common Mallow were the primary mix between bull thistles, dandelion, burdock, and creeping charlie. I always enjoyed the dappled leaves and flopped over flower heads so I let it keep a corner of the garden and mix with the grass beyond the fence. Painted from a cut stem during a downpour, it was building block towards Solomon’s Seal and a more defined idea for creating a collection of backyard botanical paintings.

10% of all print sales are donated to Story County Conservation, Iowa Arboretum, and Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation

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About Waterleaf

Hydrophllyum virginianum is an herbaceous perennial plant.

Other Common Names

Hydrophyllum virginianum is commonly referred to as the waterleaf, Virginia waterleaf, Shawnee salad, or eastern waterleaf.

Native Origin

The Hydrophyllum virginianum or Virginia waterleaf is native to Eastern North America.

Traditional Uses

“Virginia Waterleaf has both edible and medicinal uses. Both the Native Americans and the early European settlers used this plant. The root tea was used as an astringent for bleeding and for dysentery. The roots were mashed and were chewed or were used as a wash for cracked lips and for mouth sores. One teaspoon of dried and powdered roots is boiled in 1 cup of water. The young leaves and shoots are edible. They can be eaten raw in salads or cooked as a potherb. The leaves and shoots should be boiled from 5 to 10 minutes in 1-2 changes of water. The cooked leaves and shoots can be served with salt, pepper, butter, or vinegar. These leaves and shoots are best eaten before the flowers emerge. Some Native American tribes fed the roots to their ponies to fatten them and to shine up their hair. ”

Source: “Virginia Waterleaf.” Indiana Native Plants, indiananativeplants.org.

Conservation Status

Not Extinct.

The waterleaf prefers partial sun to full shade and medium soils. In its native range, you can find Virginia Waterleaf in wooded areas, specifically deciduous woodlands. Virginia Waterleaf can be aggressive and rhizomatous and therefore may not be suitable for small landscape plantings.

10% of all print sales are donated to Story County Conservation, Iowa Arboretum, and Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation

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Learn more about the entire Backyard Botanical Collection by visiting the collection’s gallery page. Visit the online gallery to see originals and prints available.

Thank you for visiting and spending time learning about the botanicals in my backyard. May this bring you a deeper understanding and joy in your own ecology.

Kristin M Roach

Published by kristinMroach

Hi! I am an artist, author, and owner of a modern apothecary called Little Woods in Ames, Iowa.