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Blue-eyed Mary

Omphalodes verna

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Boraginaceae (Borage)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
20 centimetres tall
Gardens, roadsides, rocky places, woodland.

Blue, 5 petals
Bright blue, stalked flowers with a white or pale yellow, star-shaped centre. The flowers each measure 1 to 1.5cm in diameter.
Smooth, downy nutlets.
A perennial garden escape with stalked, oval to heart-shaped leaves, pointed at their ends. Leaves measure up to 2cm long and 1.5cm wide.
Other Names:
Creeping Navelwort, Spring Navelwort.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Omphalodes verna, also known as spring navelwort or blue-eyed-Mary, is a perennial herbaceous plant that is native to Europe and Asia. It typically grows to be a small plant, reaching heights of 4-6 inches. The plant has dark green leaves and produces blue or violet flowers with a white center that bloom in the spring. This plant is often used as an ornamental plant in rock gardens and as a ground cover. It prefers well-drained soils in partial shade to full sun. It's considered a hardy plant and can be propagated by seed or division.


Blue-eyed Mary, also known as Omphalodes verna, is a charming and delicate wildflower that is native to Europe and western Asia. This small perennial plant belongs to the Boraginaceae family and is commonly found in woodland areas, meadows, and along the edges of forests.

The name "Blue-eyed Mary" is derived from the striking blue flowers that bloom in clusters from March to May. The flowers have five petals that are fused together, forming a funnel-shaped corolla that opens up into a flat face. The bright blue petals contrast beautifully with the small white or yellow center, giving the flowers an almost ethereal appearance.

The plant itself is quite compact, usually growing to only about six inches in height. The leaves are arranged in a basal rosette and are oval-shaped with a slightly wavy edge. The stems are slender and wiry, with small, pale green leaves spaced out along their length.

Blue-eyed Mary is an easy plant to grow, as long as it is planted in a shaded or partially shaded area with moist, well-draining soil. It is an ideal plant for a woodland garden or a shady rockery, and it looks particularly beautiful when grown in a mass planting.

In addition to its ornamental value, Blue-eyed Mary is also valued for its medicinal properties. It has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, including coughs, colds, and sore throats. The leaves and stems of the plant contain a mucilaginous substance that helps to soothe irritated mucous membranes and reduce inflammation.

Blue-eyed Mary is also an important food source for a variety of wildlife, including bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. The plant produces nectar and pollen, which are eagerly sought after by these creatures during the spring months when food sources may be scarce.

Blue-eyed Mary has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. It has been used as a herbal remedy to treat respiratory issues, such as coughs, colds, and bronchitis. The mucilaginous substance in the plant helps soothe the mucous membranes and reduce inflammation.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Blue-eyed Mary has also been used in folk magic. According to folklore, the plant was believed to bring good luck and prosperity to those who carried it with them. It was also thought to have the power to ward off evil spirits and protect against the evil eye.

Blue-eyed Mary is an important plant for pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies. As a native wildflower, it is well-adapted to the local ecosystem and provides an important source of nectar and pollen for bees and other insects. Planting Blue-eyed Mary in your garden can help support local pollinator populations and promote biodiversity.

In terms of cultivation, Blue-eyed Mary is a relatively low-maintenance plant. It prefers moist, well-draining soil and partial to full shade. It is a great choice for a woodland garden, rock garden, or shady border. It can be propagated by seed or by division in the fall.

Blue-eyed Mary is also known for its historical significance. In medieval times, it was used as a symbol of the Virgin Mary due to its blue petals and white center, which represented her purity and innocence. The plant was often used in religious artwork and symbolism.

The name "Omphalodes" comes from the Greek word for "navel," which refers to the shape of the flower's center. The plant was believed to have healing powers and was used to treat umbilical hernias in children.

In addition to its medicinal and cultural significance, Blue-eyed Mary has also been used for dyeing fabric. The plant contains a blue dye that can be extracted from the flowers and used to color textiles.

Unfortunately, Blue-eyed Mary is threatened by habitat loss and over-collecting in some areas. It is important to protect wild populations and to cultivate the plant in gardens and natural areas to promote its conservation.

Blue-eyed Mary has also been studied for its potential therapeutic uses. Recent research has suggested that the plant may have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties. These properties make it a potentially useful plant for treating a variety of health conditions, including arthritis, skin inflammation, and bacterial infections.

In traditional medicine, Blue-eyed Mary has been used to treat wounds and skin conditions. The plant contains tannins and saponins, which are believed to help promote healing and reduce inflammation. In some cultures, a poultice made from Blue-eyed Mary leaves and stems is applied to the skin to treat minor cuts, bruises, and skin irritations.

Blue-eyed Mary is also valued for its beauty and has been used in garden design for centuries. It is a great choice for adding color and texture to shady areas, and it pairs well with other shade-loving plants such as ferns and hostas. The delicate blue flowers of Blue-eyed Mary can also be used in floral arrangements or as a cut flower.

Overall, Blue-eyed Mary is a versatile and fascinating plant that offers many benefits to both humans and the natural world. Whether you appreciate it for its ornamental value, medicinal properties, or ecological significance, this charming wildflower is a true gem of the plant kingdom.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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