Friday, June 2, 2006
Biodiversity Corner Blue-eyed grass
When and where seen: On May 29, the blue-eyed grass was flowering by the side of the road at the Maple Street bridge and in the Greenough Land at the edge of the meadow. I have seen it other years in the Towle Field. I first found it years ago growing as a volunteer in the middle of my neighbor's lawn. They let me collect it and move it to my garden. It is a perennial, but it also propagates easily from seed and turns up each year in new places.
Identification: The flowers are blue and less than an inch across. A single stalk may bear up to four flowers each with three petals and three sepals all tipped with a little point. The petals and sepals look so much alike that the flowers appear to have six petals. The leaves are slender, iris-like and grow to a foot tall. The seed capsules are round and have three cells. The common blue-eyed grass is differentiated from other members of the genus by the shorter flower stalk and the pointy bract that extends over the top of the flower cluster.
Cultivation: Blue-eyed grass is a charming addition to a small-scale rock garden or light shade border. When not flowering, the tufts of bluish-green leaves make a nice foliage contrast to roundish-leaved plants. It likes rich soil, good drainage, and some sun but does best with not more than three or four hours of sun per day. A very close relative, the stout-leaved blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) is available from Blanchette Gardens on Rutland Street, and it's an easy one to grow. If you take delight in some of the smaller native plants, treat yourself.
References: Carol H. Woodward and H. W. Rickett, New York Botanical Garden's Field Guide to Common Wildflowers of the Northeastern United States; Lawrence Newcomb, Newcomb's Wildflower Guide.
Submissions for the Biodiversity Corner are encouraged from everyone. Tell me what you are seeing, send me photos, or write the column. Send to Kay Fairweather at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2006 The Carlisle Mosquito