Sisyrinchium campestre (Prairie Blue-eyed Grass)

Plant Info
Also known as: White-eyed Grass
Family:Iridaceae (Iris)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; prairies, meadows, along railroads
Bloom season:May - July
Plant height:4 to 16 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

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

[photo of flowers] Flowers are ½ to ¾ inch across, pale blue to white with 6 tepals (3 petals and 3 sepals all similar), yellow at the base, with a column of yellow-tipped stamens protruding from the center. Tepals are mostly rounded at the tip with a small, needle-like projection at the very tip. A few flowers are clustered at the top of a stem, the flower stalks enclosed within 2 leaf-like bracts (spathe). The outer spathe is 1 to 2 inches long and about twice as long as the inner spathe. The edges of the outer spathe are typically separate all the way to the base. The spathe color is green to purplish brown.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of stem] Leaves are narrow, toothless, grass-like blades in a basal tuft, each 3 to 10 inches long, or about as long as the flower stems. The flower stems are distinctly winged, about 1/8 inch wide, and smooth along the edges. One or more stems arise from the base.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a light to dark brown, globe-like capsule, 1/8 to 1/6 inch in diameter.


Prairie Blue-eyed Grass can be distinguished from the other Sisyrinchium species in Minnesota primarily by its pale flowers, and dry, sandy habitat.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake and Rice Creek Regional Parks, Ramsey County, and at Lost Valley SNA, Washington County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.


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

Posted by: Jeanne - Afton State Park
on: 2010-06-12 21:06:02

In bloom 5/16/2010

Posted by: Mark - Oakdale Nature Preserve
on: 2011-05-30 21:14:25

Blooming 5/30/11, approx 150 yards SSE of the Granada/45th St entrance.

Posted by: Pamela - Oak Grove, Anoka County
on: 2011-06-03 16:40:21

Found some of this along a dirt road in Oak Grove, blooming, 6/3/11.

Posted by: Diane - Bemidji
on: 2011-07-01 15:20:44

Surprised to see this in fairly high numbers in a sandy moist area near airport.

Posted by: Laura - Redwood Falls
on: 2012-04-08 14:32:57

Minnesota River bottom Rd south of Fairfax - Many plants growing in the sand along the edge of the road

Posted by: richards lyon
on: 2012-04-18 22:56:13

Chicory flowers last just a few hours, then a new bud opens each day. This is not common knowledge, most believing the flower closes at night to open again the next day. Not true. Does the Blue Eyed flower do the same? Yet not mentioned in the descriptions. We have our share and they are a staple.

Posted by: Nathan - Nicollet County
on: 2015-05-16 21:13:11

Found this today in my small prairie. Just showed up after 5 years without planting it. Very nice surprise.

Posted by: Carolyn C - Mississippi River Gorge - at 36th St. & W River Pkwy, Mpls
on: 2017-05-08 18:48:29

Several patches are in bloom on 5/6/2017 on the s-facing remnant prairie slope here. This is a larger amount blooming than I have ever noticed before.

Posted by: Faylyn - North Saint Paul
on: 2020-05-26 13:45:55

Are these native to Minnesota? I have two in my front yard that were there when it was still just a very weedy lawn. They're absolutely beautiful and I'm glad I didn't take them out when preparing my garden beds.

Posted by: Snowgoose - Brown County near Laraway WMA
on: 2020-06-25 13:39:34

Several patches all blooming May 20-25.

Posted by: Cara Greger - Big Stone Lake State park Meadowbrook unit
on: 2021-05-20 13:48:17

I saw one clump on May 20 in an area burned on May 7 close to the mowed trail.

Posted by: Molly Stoddard - Fergus Falls
on: 2021-05-21 21:44:46

Currently blooming at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center about 1 month post burn

Posted by: Barbara Possin - Duluth
on: 2021-06-03 15:20:38

Seen in Chester Park along sunny XC ski trail 6/2/2021

Posted by: Lana Svien - Lac qui Parle state park
on: 2022-06-02 13:25:41

Seen in Lac qui Parle state park rocky trail on a hill

Posted by: Karen Kaehler - Longville
on: 2022-06-14 13:34:22

Sign of a very late spring. Several patches now blooming at our lake property in central Cass County. They've been expanding a little bit every year. Naturally occurring not planted.

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