Uvularia grandiflora Colchicaceae

Other names

Bellwort, Large-Flowered Bellwort

Growth habit




Native distribution

Native to the Finger Lakes Region, SW. Quebec to MN, South to TN, OK and AR


A 10-18" tall, arching plant with yellow flowers and alternate, clasping leaves. This lime-loving plant is excellent in gardens, but it is susceptible to dear damage, so keep it protected! Sun: part shade to full shade
Moisture and Soil: medium moisture, rich soil


Seed Treatment and Storage: Keep seeds moist. Needs warm+moist/cold+moist stratification. It may be 2-3 years until growth appears above ground (first year post germination is underground development); 5-8 years to flower.

Biocultural value

Reports have suggested that large-flowered bellwort roots and young shoots are edible, but vast numbers would have to be collected to achieve a harvest of any practical value, so the plants should be collected only in emergency. Contemporary pharmaceutical studies are investigating salicylic acid derivatives in the plant, which may be responsible for its effectiveness as a treatment for boils, swelling, wounds, rheumatic pain, and back aches. Native Americans recognized the plant's virtues and used it accordingly. The Menominee used the plant as a dermatological aid, while the Potawatomi prescribed an infusion of the root for back aches and added it to a lard-based salve to massage sore backs and tendons.

The statements above were sourced from:

Fernald, Merritt Lyndon, and Alfred Charles Kinsey Kinsey. 1958. Edible Wild Plants of Eastern North America. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Harper and Row.

Native American Ethnobotany Database: http://naeb.BRIT Native American Ethnobotany

Wildlife value

Large-flowered bellwort attracts insect with a nectar reward, something few contemporaneously blooming plants offer. Common floral visitors include mining bees (Andrena spp.) and sweat bees (Lasioglossum spp.). One mining bee (Andrena uvulariae) collects pollen only from flowers in the genus Uvularia. Ants crawl inside the flowers to feed on the nectar and disperse the seeds, which have a fleshy elaisome. The foliage is vulnerable to mammalian herbivores, and heavy browsing by deer can lead to a decline in large-flowered bellwort populations.

Climate change sensitivity

Between 1986 and 2015, average temperatures here increased measurably, and this plant bloomed an average of 21.2 days earlier.


Mundy Wildflower Garden, McLean Bogs

Source of plant

Brent & Becky's Bulbs, Betty Miller


Stems sometimes 2-branched, 30-75cm high; leaves to 12cm long, stem-clasping, oblong to lanceolate-ovate, acuminate, pubescent beneath. Flowers to 5cm long, pendulous, slender, the segments slightly twisted, lemon-yellow with stamens longer than the pistil, effective in April.

USDA Hardiness Zone