narrowleaf blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium)
narrowleaf blue-eyed grass
narrow-leaf blue-eyed grass
stout blue-eyed grass
Sisyrinchium bermudiana auct. non L.
Sisyrinchium graminoides E.P. Bicknell
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.
TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name of narrowleaf
blue-eyed grass is Sisyrinchium angustifolium P. Mill.
Two species of blue-eyed grass have been recorded in Facquier County -
narrowleaf blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium P. Mill) and
needle-tip blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium mucronatum). Even under the
best of circumstances these two species are difficult to distinguish. Only
a small number of this rarely encountered species have been observed
in Sky Meadows State Park. Based on stem formation and flower config-
uration, species angustifolium is believed to represent some of the blue-
eyed grass in Sky Meadows.
NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States and Canada.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Habit: This native perennial plant is about ½–1' tall.
Leaves: It has a loose tuft of basal leaves that emerge directly from the
ground. They are green in the shade and often bluish or greyish green in
the sun. These basal leaves are linear with parallel venation and up to 1/6"
across; they resemble short narrow Iris leaves.
Flowers: Among the leaves, there develops occasional flowering stalks
with umbels of blue-violet flowers. These flowering stalks are usually
more narrow than the leaves, but they are same height or slightly taller.
Each stalk terminates in a long leaf-like bract, from which a spathe with
a pair of short bracts will develop. This spathe may be sessile, or it may
develop from a long secondary stalk (a peduncle). An umbel of flowers
develops between the bracts of the spathe. Usually, only a few flowers in
an umbel will be in bloom at the same time. Each flower is up to ½" across;
it consists of 3 petals and 3 sepals that appear nearly identical to each other.
Each petal or sepal terminates in a tiny pointed tip that is often slightly
notched on either side. There are fine lines of dark violet that lead to the
center of the flower – these function as nectar guides. The base of each
flower is bright yellow, from which there develops the sexual organs in the
form of a bright yellow spike. At the base of each flower, there is a slender
pedicel up to 1" long. There is no noticeable floral scent.
Fruit/Seeds: The globoid 3-celled seed capsules split into 3 sections, re-
leasing small black seeds; these can be carried a short distance by gusts
Roots: The root system is coarsely fibrous, and can form new offshoots.
REGENERATION PROCESS: Narrowleaf blue-eyed grass propogates
itself by reseeding; it also can vegetatively form offshoots through root
HABITAT TYPES: This species can be found occasionally in moist to
mesic black soil prairies, but it is more common in habitats with woody
vegetation. These habitats include floodplain forests, thickets, woodland
borders and openings, moist oak savannas, and the slopes of rivers. This
plant usually occurs in grassy areas, as broad-leaved forbs tend to crowd
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Narrowleaf blue-eyed grass prefers full
or partial sun and moist to average conditions. Growth is best in a rich
loam that is high in organic material. Light shade is also tolerated, but
flowers will be fewer in number. Under optimal conditions, narrowleaf
blue-eyed grass can gradually form larger clumps.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The blooming period occurs during
late spring or early summer, and lasts about a month.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Narrowleaf blue-eyed grass occurs
throughout the eastern portion of the United States and Canada (excep-
tions being some of the maritime provinces), and extends west through
the Ohio Valley region and mid-west to the eastern part of the Great
Plains. It does not naturally occur in the far southest or far west states
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: Halictine bees are probably the most im-
portant visitors of the flowers, where they collect pollen or suck nectar.
Bumblebees, other kinds of bees, and bee flies are less frequent visitors
seeking nectar, while Syrphid flies feed on pollen or suck nectar. The
seeds and other parts of this plant are eaten to a limited extent by the
greater prairie chicken and wild turkey.
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