Friday, May 29, 2009

Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium)

Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium)
Sisyrinchium angustifolium, commonly known as Stout blue-eyed grass or simply blue-eyed grass, is the most common blue-eyed grass of the eastern United States. It is a perennial plant growing in fields, meadows, and other grassy places. (Wikipedia)

Though their foliage is grass-like, the blue-eyed grasses belong to the iris family not the grass family. Sisyrinchium angustifolium is noted for its violet-blue flowers and branched flowering stems.

Best grown in medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun. Tolerates light shade. Prefers consistently moist soils that do not dry out, but drainage must be good. Will freely self-seed in optimum growing conditions. (Kemper Center for Home Gardening --Missouri Botanical Garden)

The flowers are about three-quarters of an inch (1.9 cm) across, and stand erect above the leaves on slender grasslike flattened stalks. Individually, they are short lived, but the succession of flowers can last several weeks in spring and early summer.

Recent authorities have combined several previously recognized species (Sisyrinchium angustifolia, S. graminoides, S. atlanticum, and S. miamiense) into a single wide ranging species that occurs from Newfoundland and Quebec to southern Florida and west to eastern Texas. Its native habitat is open woods, moist pinelands, fields, meadows, marshes, the edges of swamps and grassy roadsides.  (Floridata)

Growing Conditions:

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet , Moist
Soil Description: Moist, poor to average soils
Conditions Comments: This short-lived perennial will decline if allowed to dry out. Heavy mulch causes crown rot and rich, organic soils encourage rank, vegetative growth. Plants need to be divided at least every other year.


Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: Propagate by seed or division. Several dozen divisions can be expected from a mature, healthy specimen.
Seed Collection: Collect seed capsule when they have darkened to brown and become wrinkled.  (Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center)

The taxonomy of this genus is rather perplexing and confusing, as several of these species, such as Sisyrinchium angustifolium, form complexes with many variants named as species. More genetic research and cladistic analysis need to be performed to sort out the relationships between the species.  (Wikipedia)

Sisyrinchium: Greek sys for pig; rynchos for snout; referring to a pig grubbing the roots for food.

angustifolium: Latin for "narrow leaf"  (Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium -- University of Wisconsin)

Also: USDA Plant Profile and Distribution Map