longleaved bluets (Houstonia longifolia)
longleaf summer bluet
long-leaf summer bluet
Hedyotis longifolia (Gaertn.) Hook.
Hedyotis longifolia (Gaertn.) Hook. var. tenuifolia (Nutt.) Torr. & A. Gray
Hedyotis nuttalliana Fosberg
Hedyotis purpurea (L.) Torr. & A. Gray var. longifolia (Gaertn.) Fosberg
Hedyotis purpurea (L.) Torr. & A. Gray var. tenuifolia (Nutt.) Fosberg
Houstonia longifolia Gaertn. var. compacta Terrell
Houstonia longifolia Gaertn. var. glabra Terrell
Houstonia longifolia Gaertn. var. tenuifolia (Nutt.) Alph. Wood
Houstonia purpurea L. var. tenuifolia (Nutt.) A. Gray
Houstonia tenuifolia Nutt.
Oldenlandia purpurea (L.) A. Gray var. tenuifolia (Nutt.) A. Gray ex
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.
TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name of longleaved
bluets is Houstonia longifolia Gaertn. This is a dainty plant that produces
abundant small flowers if it receives some sunlight. Long-leaved bluets is
smaller in size than Houstonia purpurea (broad-eaved bluets), but larger
in size than several other bluets, including Houstonia caerulea (Quaker
ladies) and Houstonia pusilla (small bluets). Long-leaved bluets is very
similar in appearance to Houstonia canadensis (Canada bluets); some
authorities consider the latter species to be a variety of the former, or
Houstonia longifolia var. ciliata. Canada bluets is supposed to have
more persistent basal leaves with ciliate margins, flowering stems that
are fewer in number and less branched, and slightly longer corolla lobes.
Because the ranges of these two species overlap and they may intergrade,
it is not always possible to reliably assign field specimens to one species
NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States and Canada.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Habit: Longleaved bluets is native perennial wildflower is 4-10" tall and
more or less erect. A small rosette of basal leaves may be produced, but it
withers away before the flowers bloom. The margins of these basal leaves,
when present, are hairless. Multiple flowering stems are produced that of-
ten branch. These stems are light to medium green, 4-angled, and either
hairless or slightly hairy along their angled margins.
Leaves: Pairs of opposite leaves occur at intervals along each stem. These
leaves are about ½–1" long and less than ¼" across; they are medium green, lanceolate-oblong or linear-lanceolate, smooth or ciliate along their mar-
gins, and single- veined. Secondary leafy stems often develop from the
axils of the opposite leaves along the primary stem.
Flowers: The upper stems terminate in small flat- headed clusters of
flowers. Individual flowers are about ¼" across, consisting of a tubular
corolla with 4 spreading lobes and a green calyx with 4 linear-lanceolate
teeth. The color of the corolla can vary from pale purplish pink to white;
there are conspicuous hairs along its throat. The flowers of long-leaved
bluets are dimorphic: some flowers have long fertile styles and short abort-
ed stamens, while other flowers have short aborted styles and long fertile
stamens. Each fertile style has a pair of flattened stigmata at its apex.
Fruit/Seeds: The flowers are replaced by globoid 2-celled seed capsules
that are a little shorter than the teeth of their calyces. Each cell of a seed
capsule contains several small seeds.
Roots: The root system consists of a small crown with long fibrous roots underneath.
REGENERATION PROCESS: Longleaved bluets spreads into new
areas by reseeding itself.
HABITAT TYPES: Habitats include dry gravel prairies, hill prairies,
rocky glades, and rocky upland woodlands. This wildflower is normally
found in high quality natural areas.
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: The preference is full or partial sun, mesic
to dry conditions, and a rather sterile soil that is rocky or gravelly. This
species will adapt to rock gardens and it is not difficult to cultivate.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The blooming period occurs from late
spring to mid-summer and lasts about a month.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Longleaved bluets is a species primarily
of the eastern United States and Canada that extends west through the
Ohio Valley into the eastern portions of the Great Plains states where its
occurrence is more sporadic. It is generally not found in the Rocky
Mountain states, southwestern states, or the far western Pacific states. It
does extend accross most of Canada, however, reaching as far west as
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: The flowers are pollinated primarily by
small bees, including halictid bees (Lasioglossum spp., Halictus spp.,
etc.), masked bees (Hylaeus spp.), little carpenter bees (Ceratina spp.),
and mason bees (Hoplitis spp.). These insects suck nectar and collect pol-
len from the flowers. The caterpillars of a small moth, Thyris maculata
(spotted thyris), feed on the leaves of Houstonia spp. (bluets). The
foliage is not known to be toxic, therefore it may be eaten occasionally
by the cottontail rabbit.
Crooked Run Valley