Sisyrinchium mucronatum (Needle-pointed Blue-eyed Grass)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Genus:Sisyrinchium
Family:Iridaceae (Iris)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
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):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 6-petals Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flower] 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).

[photo of 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: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] 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.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of developing fruit] The small, globe-like fruit is about 1/8 inch in diameter, on a slender stalk.

Notes:

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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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Kittson, Marshall, Stearns and St. Louis counties.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Kevin - Chester Wood's Park
on: 2015-05-14 07:22:48

Saw a small number of needle-pointed blue-eyed grass along trail west of dam and adjacent to area with sign that says goat prairie. Flowers were not fully opened.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2015-05-14 12:15:42

Kevin, unless it was planted there in Chester Woods Park, what you probably saw was the more common S. campestre, prairie blue-eyed grass. Check the distribution map to see where these species are naturally occurring.

Posted by: Kevin - Chester Woods Park
on: 2015-05-14 22:40:20

Ah yes, that makes sense. Thanks!

Posted by: Ericka - Gheen MN
on: 2015-06-02 19:42:43

my son found some of the pointed blue eyed grass tonight and brought it to me. it definitely had the points on the petals! i had never seen it before, but its beautiful! i guess i had probably seen it but taken it for granted. anyway its right at our house, and we are so glad for it!

Posted by: Amanda - Superior National Forest
on: 2015-09-08 10:01:23

I saw Needle-pointed blue-eyed grass along a "winter harvest" road in Superior Nation Forest this summer. Road was very moist. Very beautiful!

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