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Needletip Blue-eyed Grass, Michaux's Blue-eyed-Grass, Slender Blue-eyed Grass, Narrow-Leaved Blue-eyed-Grass - Sisyrinchium mucronatum

Family: Iridaceae - Iris family Genus Common Name: Blue-eyed Grass Native Status: NativeMonocot Perennial Herb
Sisyrinchium mucronatum - Needletip Blue-eyed Grass, Michaux's Blue-eyed-Grass, Slender Blue-eyed Grass, Narrow-Leaved Blue-eyed-Grass. Sisyrinchium is a very confusing genus, even among botanists - much more to a rank hobbyist as myself. Based on the following criteria, I'm calling this S. Mucronatum:
  • Purplish spathe
  • USDA database has this one in Walker County, Ga, where I photographed it. The other species that are possibles in Walker County because they may have purple coloring in the spathes are:
    • S. atlanticum - general plant formation does not seem to match my plant, and the spathes only occasionally have a purple tinge, where as this plant has more than just a tinge.
    • S. capillare - USDA has no county information on this species, so I do not know if it is in Walker or nearby counties, and has even narrower stems than S. mucronatum.
    • S. nashii - Wider stems than S. mucronatum, and the purplish tinge in the spathes are only on the margins.
  • This plant has narrower stems than most of the Sisyrinchiums I've seen around here, which I believe to be S. angustifolium. However, the stems in this plant may be too wide for S. mucronatum, which still leaves me with some doubt in this identification, with the most likely alternative identification to be S. nashii.

There are 41 Blue-eyed Grass species listed in the USDA Plants Database, with every state in the union having at least one species. Sisyrinchium mucronatum is found throughout much of the eastern United States and Canada, but is protected as Endangered or of Special Concern in Maine, Massachusetts, New York, and Ohio. It flowers in late spring and early summer.

Found in:
Sisyrinchium mucronatum

Distribution of Sisyrinchium mucronatum in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 22 Feb 2018). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2012-April-29Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
Slender Blue-eyed Grass blossoms are normally dark blue to violet, but may occasionally be white. The tepals have the yellow bases that are typical of most Sisyrinchium species. It appears that hoverflies are among the pollinators for this plant.
Sisyrinchium mucronatum

Site: Walker County, Ga Date: 2012-April-29Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Many of the Sisyrinchium species will form attractive clumps. The blossoms are at the end of the stems which rise above the shorter leaves. Most the stems of most Sisyrinchium species are winged. The reddish or purple spathes from which the flowers emerge is a key species indicator. The similar S. angustifolium has green spathes and wider stems.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Sisyrinchium mucronatum

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2018
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer