JACOB's LADDER

Polemonium caeruleum

Jacob's Ladder / Phlox Family [Polemoniaceae]  

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8Aug

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8blue
inner
inner8white
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZbell
stem
stem8round
rarity
rarityZuncommon

9th June 2008, Lathkildale, Derbyshire Photo: © RWD
In a now dry limestone valley, the river long since having worked its way underground in this part.


9th June 2008, Chelmorton, Derbyshire Photo: © RWD
Could be mistaken for Monkshood at first glance.


9th June 2008, Chelmorton, Derbyshire Photo: © RWD
The bright mauve flowers in a spike up the stem.


9th June 2008, Lathkildale, Derbyshire Photo: © RWD
A bell-shaped flower with five petals and nominally five prominent white stamens with a large blob of bright yellow pollen at the ends.


9th June 2008, Chelmorton, Derbyshire Photo: © RWD
Un-opened flower buds taper to a point at the ends.


9th June 2008, Lathkildale, Derbyshire Photo: © RWD
The central inner of the flower is white.


9th June 2008, Chelmorton, Derbyshire Photo: © RWD
Five green sepals. Large blobs of pollen.


9th June 2008, Chelmorton, Derbyshire Photo: © RWD


9th June 2008, Chelmorton, Derbyshire Photo: © RWD
The forest of lower leaves.


9th June 2008, Chelmorton, Derbyshire Photo: © RWD
The pinnate slightly hairy leaves are set in pairs at an offset-angle up the ridged stem which maximises the sun-gathering whilst minimising self-shadowing. The ladder morphology of the leaves indubitably gave rise to the name 'Jacobs' Ladder' and gives the impression that the leaves may, in a wind, exhibit aerodynamic lift.


Some similarities to : Giant Bellflower and other tall bellflowers, but the leaves of Jacobs Ladder are pinnate.

Distinguishing Feature : A medium tall plant to 1m with large bluish bellflower-shaped flowers. Leaves in a step-ladder conformation, not dissimilar in configuration to those of Solomon's Seal.

Leaves slightly similar to those of Common Valerian, but with many more leaflets to each pinnate leaf (plus the fact that they are not in opposite pairs at large intervals up the stem, but rather are alternate up the stem).

A quite rare plant occupying several places on limestone cliff ledges, notably at Malham Cove in Yorkshire and localised places in Derbyshire, like Lathkildale.

Jacobs Ladder was the only known member of the Jacobs Ladder Family until taxonomists decided to put a few more Genera in the Polemoniaceae family. It now includes Phlox.

A black dye is produced by boiling the plant in olive oil, used as a hair-dressing for men with greying hair.


  Polemonium caeruleum  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Polemoniaceae  

Distribution
family8Jacob's Ladder family8Polemoniacaea

 BSBI maps
genus8Polemonium
Polemonium
(Jacob'r-Ladder)

JACOB's LADDER

Polemonium caeruleum

Jacob's Ladder / Phlox Family [Polemoniaceae]  

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