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What is Omphalodes?

By Vasanth S.
Updated May 16, 2024
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Omphalodes is a plant genus that is part of the Boraginaceae family. It contains about 28 species of annuals, perennials, and biennials that are native to Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. The plants feature oval or heart-shaped leaves and blue or white flowers. Landscapers commonly use these plants in flower beds or borders. A common problem that affects these plants is slug or snail infestation.

The genus name is derived from the Greek words omphalos and oides, which translate to "navel" and "resembling." It describes the seed which features an indentation in the center. The plants are generally referred to as navelwort or navelseed.

Omphalodes verna is a commonly cultivated species. It is a perennial flowering plant that is also called blue-eyed Mary. The plant grows about 10 inches (25 cm) in height and spreads about 20 inches (50 cm). It has a clump form and features stolons, which are stems that grow horizontally along the soil and connect several plants together. The green leaves are pointed and have a hairy surface.

The flowers of Omphalodes verna typically bloom in the spring. They are about a 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) wide and are blue with white centers. The flowers are usually arranged in clusters. The alba variety of this plant features white flowers.

Omphalodes verna grows well in well-draining soil that is fertile. It thrives in most types of soil including loamy, sandy, or clay. The pH of the soil ranges from acidic to alkaline. This plant also should be placed in an area that is partially shaded from the sun.

This plant is relatively maintenance free, requiring a little pruning after flowering. It is propagated by seeds or division. In general, it usually is divided in early spring.

Slugs occasionally feed on the leaves and flowers of this plant. They usually crawl onto the foliage during wet conditions and leave a slime trail. Slugs also cause bacterial soft rot, which is a type of plant decay. Usually, slug infestation is prevented by placing traps around the plants. The traps consist of material that attracts the slugs, such as beer or sugar-water mixed with yeast.

Snails also damage the foliage of Omphalodes verna. They feature a shell and usually leave a slime trail on the leaves. Snails are easily removed from the foliage by hand. Like slugs, snails can be trapped by attractants. Screens are also effective in protecting plants from snail infestation.

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