Bellwort and Bee

Mike Oxley

Cornwall Ontario, Canada

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Wall Art

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Artist's Description

Sounds a bit like the requirements for a spell.

“I’ll be needing my Bell, Wart and Bee before I can turn your wee brother into a toad, Susie.”

Large-Flowered Bellwort Uvularia grandiflora
Augochlora Sweat Bee Augochlora pura

Please “view larger”, but only of you’ve got the time!

Guindon Park, Cornwall, Ontario, Canada
May 7, 2011

One of those “lucky” shots. I had no idea this wee bee was even in the frame until I put the pic up on the screen. The bee, by the way, is 1/4" or 8 mm long.

With thanks to

Large-flowered bellwort is a pretty but untidy looking plant.  The leaves are somewhat curled and look half-opened.  The flowers dangle beneath the leaves, and look wilted.  The plant stands up to about two and a half feet tall, with one to several stems arising from the underground parts.  The stems are often branched.  Each branch bears one to several dangling flowers, one to two inches long.  The sepals and petals are both deep yellow and look alike; since they cannot be easily told apart they are called tepals.

Large-flowered bellwort is another spring ephemeral, doing its growing and blooming before the trees leaf out.  It favors rich deciduous woods from Quebec west to Montana and south to Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, and then north in the Appalachian Mountains to New Hampshire.  In Wildwood it is very common on the western slope of the park near where the dwarf larkspurs are blooming so extravagantly.

The genus name Uvularia comes from the Latin uvula, the name for the little organ that dangles in the back of your throat.  Presumably the dangling flowers were thought to resemble uvulas. 

A Medieval philosophy called the Doctrine of Signatures claimed that God had given mankind clues to the medicinal uses of plants by shaping them to look like the organs they were useful in treating.  For this reason bellworts were thought useful in treating sore or inflamed throats.  However, they appear not to have been very effective as there is no mention of them in more modern books of medicinal plants.  The species name grandiflora comes from Latin and simply means “large flower.”  The English name bellwort is not at all mysterious; bell refers to the shape of the flower, and wort is an old English word for plant.

Sony Alpha 700, Sigma 28 to 300, at 300 mm, circular polarizer
iso 250, spot metered, F6.3, 1/320 second

Artwork Comments

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