Blue-eyed grass

From Mike McKinley (in Austin TX) on Facebook, this plant appreciation:

Texas is justly famous for its wildflowers. Spring here is really gorgeous as it’s the time of year when everything is green, lush and cool. We have a wealth of lovely wildflowers, but this one has been my favorite since I was a kid and it’s called blue-eyed grass. It’s very small and grows in small isolated clumps, so you never see it covering a field. It’s subtle and tasteful.


The species pictured is either S. angustifolium, Narrowleaf blue-eyed grass, or  S. montanum, Common blue-eyed grass, both of which are common in Texas. (Someone with better botanical knowledge than I have could surely identify the species.)

From Wikipedia:

Sisyrinchium (Blue-eyed Grasses) is a genus of 70-200 species of annual to perennial plants of the iris family, native to the New World.

… These are not true grasses, but many species have the general appearance of grasses, as they are low-growing plants with long, thin leaves. They often grow on grasslands. Many species resemble irises, to which they are more closely related. Most species grow as perennial plants, from a rhizome, though some are short-lived (e.g. S. striatum), and some are annuals (e.g. S. iridifolium).

… Many species, particularly the South American ones, are not blue, despite the common name. The genus includes species with blue, white, yellow, and purple petals, often with a contrasting centre. Of the species in the United States, the Western Blue-eyed Grass, Sisyrinchium bellum, is sometimes found with white flowers, while the California Golden-eyed Grass, Sisyrinchium californicum, has yellow flowers.

OED2 takes the genus name back only to an earlier plant name, but offers no further etymology, and there seems to be considerable speculation, none of it authoritative, about the etymology.


One Response to “Blue-eyed grass”

  1. javava2012 Says:

    Lady Bird Johnson played a large role in ensuring that Texas’s wild flowers would get the greatest possible attention when she initiated the effort to have them planted — and not cut — in the medians of highways. They truly are a sight to behold!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: