Jacob's ladder

Jacob's-ladder (Polemonium reptans) is another perennial native to Illinois that met my requirements of being able to handle a fair amount of shade and moisture, and it's flourished in a spot where all its predecessors died. A member of the phlox family, featured in the Botanic Gardens Native Plant Garden, and approved for Illinois highway planting by the Federal Highway Administration, it produces handsome little bushlike sprays of up to 1-1/2' tall, with light blue flowers in mid spring and beyond. The leaves are compound and can look almost fernlike. In the wild it prefers woodlands or areas along rivers. If looking for native variety make sure to get reptans. Note that some cultivated variegated varieties are also available.