Sisyrinchium mucronatum (Needle-pointed Blue-eyed Grass)
|Also known as:|
|Habitat:||sun; moist, sandy fields, meadows, roadsides|
|Bloom season:||May - June|
|Plant height:||4 to 16 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FAC MW: FACW NCNE: FAC|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Deep blue to violet, occasionally pale but rarely white, star-like flowers ½ to just under ¾ inch across, with 6 tepals (3 petals and 3 sepals all similar) that are usually rounded at the tips; a small needle-like projection is at the very tip. A bright spot at the base of each tepal creates a greenish to yellow throat, with a column of bright yellow-tipped stamens in the center. Flowers are borne in groups of 2 to 4, each on a short slender stalk with usually only 1 flower open at a time, and enclosed by 2 leaf-like bracts (spathe).
The spathe is sometimes green or more often purple, the outer spathe up to 2 inches long and up to twice as long as the inner spathe. The edges of the outer spathe are joined at the base, for less than 1/8 inch.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are all basal, long and slender, grass-like, toothless, generally 4 to 8 inches long, the largest are less than 1/10 inch wide. The flowering stems are much longer than the leaves, very slender and wiry, about 1/16 inch wide with absent or scarsely decernable wings, and smooth along the edges.
Minnesota has 3 Blue-eyed Grass species whose ranges overlap to a great extent, yet each exhibits a geographic preference. Needle-tipped Blue-eyed Grass is the least common of the three, mostly western in distribution with its densest populations in the Red River Valley. Its habitat preference is from moist to mesic soils where it can be found growing in close proximity to Mountain Blue-eyed Grass (S. montanum). S. mucronatum can be distinguished by its overall slenderness in both leaves and barely winged stems, as well as fruits ½ to 2/3 the size of S. montanum fruits. The predominantly southern Prairie Blue-eyed Grass (S. campestre) is found on dry, often very sandy prairie soils and is lighter in color, both flower and foliage, with toothless leaves and stems, and its outer spathe is not joined at the base. A fourth species, Narrowleaf Blue-eyed Grass (S. angustifolium), not seen in Minnesota since 1950 but recently rediscovered near Duluth, is easily distinguished by its multiple, long-stalked flower clusters arising from the spathe.
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Kittson, Marshall, Stearns and St. Louis counties.
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