Woollen Breeches (Notchbract Waterleaf; Great Waterleaf)
A branching, hairy biennial. Flowers in loose groups (cymes), usually borne above the leaves; corolla with 5 shallow lobes, light blue; stamens purple-tipped, protruding slightly. Calyx with 5 sharp-pointed lobes; between each is a small, backward-curved appendage. Blooms April-July. Leaves alternate, thin, soft-hairy, palmately 5-lobed (like a maple’s), irregularly coarse-toothed, on long petioles. Lower leaves often with grayish or light green patches on upper surface, appearing water stained.
Similar species: Our other waterleafs lack the recurved appendages between the sepal lobes. Broadleaf waterleaf (H. canadense) grows only in east and east-central Missouri, is not hairy, and usually has leaves above the flower clusters. Virginia waterleaf (H. virginianum) is smooth, with pinnately lobed leaves (like a feather) with the pairs of lobes divided by a section of the midvein. Phacelias, such as Miami mist, have flowers in coiled cymes instead of branching or headlike cymes.