waterleaf, common name for the Hydrophyllaceae, a family of herbs and some shrubs, widely distributed but especially abundant in W and SW North America. Best known in the United States are the waterleafs (genus Hydrophyllum ), forest herbs eaten as greens by some Native American groups; the yerba santa ( Eriodictyion californicum ), a common chaparral shrub; and species of Nemophila, including the cultivated baby blue-eyes ( N. menziesii ) of California. Waterleaf is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Solanales.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.