Blue Eyes Shining in the Sun

Although their season is coming to an end, the lovely spring ephemerals known as Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium spp.) still can be found. Not a grass at all, but a member of the iris family, their several species add a pleasing dash of color to the spring landscape. That color can range from a clear, light blue to a deeper shade of blue tinged with lavender or purple, but all are lovely.

As time goes by, other grasses begin to overtake these small, half-inch wide flowers, encouraged by the rising warmth of a changing season.  In its way, the casual tumble of flowers and grasses is as pleasing as any first view of earlier blooms. Some blue eyes may cry in the rain, but for a few short weeks these blue eyes shine in the sun.


Comments always are welcome.

51 thoughts on “Blue Eyes Shining in the Sun

  1. It wasn’t hard to know right from the title which song you had in mind. Wikipedia notes that the songwriter was the florally named Fred Rose and that the song dates back to 1947, well before Willie Nelson’s 1975 version.

    1. I thought about linking to Hank Williams’s 1951 version, but I’d much rather listen to Willie: particularly since Willie’s recording of the song jump-started his career, and old-style country music isn’t for everyone. Now I’m thinking that someone should redo the lyrics of the song as a tribute to the blue-eyed grass. I can imagine a video performance of “Blue Eyes Shining in the Sun” being entered into a NPSoT contest — but I’ll leave that to someone else.

    1. Now, that made me grin, Laurie. I never would have expected someone not to bbe familiar with the song, or Willie’s version specifically. That’s akin to my lack of familiarity with expressions and customs from your part of the country. I’m glad to have introduced you to it — and of course I thought of your love of blue when I created the post. These little flowers can truly glow.

    1. Is your species S. atlanticum? There are seven species here; I suspect this one could be narrow-leaved blue-eyed grass, or S. angustifolium. Like the bluebonnets, it occasionally will offer up a pure white flower; it’s always great fun to see those.

      1. You know, I’m not sure, but I suspect S. angustifolium. We apparently have both in MA. Ours are a very dark purple. I’ll have to check them out when they bloom in May/June.

    1. It’s amazing how many shades of blue can be found among these flowers; their colors vary much more than, say, the bluebonnets’. These tiny things aren’t as dramatic as bluebonnets, but they’re no less lovely — and they provide plenty of sustenance for spring’s earliest insects. Hoverflies and small bees seem especially drawn to them.

    1. What a sight that would be. Down here, we’re awash in yellow just now, and it’s gorgeous. The Texas dandelions are having an extraordinary year: so much so that after they mowed them to the ground in our utility easements, they were back in two days. You can’t keep a good wildflower down!

    1. Their simple form and pure color does make them unusually attractive — at least, to me. I’m glad you enjoyed them, too. I know there are some in this genus that grow in the northeast U.S., so it may well be that they’re one of your spring ephemerals, too.

  2. Such a gorgeous set of photos, Linda–isn’t that color just the best blue?? I have this one little stand in my limestone patio pathway that makes its appearance each spring. I’ve had a hard time getting good photos this spring as we’ve experienced lots of wind. I let my blue eyes go to seed, but thus far, no others have shown up.

    1. Thanks, Tina! It’s great that you have some to enjoy each year; it’s interesting that they’ve not spread for you. You’re the gardener, so you may know all this, but I found this article very interesting. It certainly explains why I sometimes see large colonies of these flowers in places like electrical substations, where ‘dirt’ really is the operative word rather than ‘soil.’ Even our most delicate-looking wildflowers can be tough little things.

  3. My goodness, these are stunning! Glad you caught them before they faded away. What a lovely color — especially the blue tinged with purple. The closeups are striking, but a field of them must be breath-taking!

    1. These like moisture, so they’re often found alongside the roads and in the ditches, rather than covering fields like the bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush. Sometimes, you can find them combined with the pink evening primrose or yellow primroses, and those are beautiful sights. I think I have some photos of that kind of combination, but I can’t find them just now; one of these days, I am going to get organized!

  4. Those Blue Eyes are absolutely lovely!

    Thanks to this, I’ll have an earworm the rest of the day but, with such a good song, it won’t be much of a hardship.

    1. I know — I’ve been ‘hearing’ that tune all day. As you say, it’s a good one to have on repeat. It’s been good to see these flowers ‘repeating’ a bit longer than usual, too; at least, it seems to me as if they are. It’s been a strange year, but things do seem to be getting back on their regular schedule. May always has been the month for the Oleander festival in Galveston, and in the past week or two the Oleanders that were cut down to the ground post-freeze are full sized again, and blooming: right on time.

    1. It certainly is better than crying, isn’t it? (Well, at least sometimes. There are times when tears are just right!) I do think these little flowers are especially cheerful and perky; they really do shine.

  5. Instead of blue eyes crying in the rain, those perky little fellows reminded me of “Blue Skies smiling at me” Linda. –Curt

    1. I’d forgotten that Willie did a great cover of that song, too. It makes sense that you’d think of that one; you’ve got blue skies ahead, for sure!

    1. I just mentioned to another reader that this group was part of an extensive colony that stretched alongside the road for at least a mile. In some places, these flowers mixed with pink primrose and various other flowers: nature’s bouquet, for sure.

  6. Very nice find. When I meet them there’s one here and one there. Never a nice patch such as this. Whether shining in the sun or crying in the rain these are beautiful blue eyes.

    1. This ‘patch’ was part of a large colony that stretched for a mile or so along a farm to market road between Markham and Midfield — tiny towns in the middle of cotton, rice, and corn fields. It’s a nice area to look for flowers, because there’s almost no traffic and it’s easy to park on the road. There can be quite a variety of flowers, too. While I’m sure there are weed controls being used by the farmers, the fencelines and ditches never show any sign of being sprayed — or suffering overspray — which is really great.

    1. It’s always fun to find that one of our Texas flowers is familiar to others.This genus seems especially widespread; I surely wouldn’t mind such a patch of blue in my yard — lucky you!

    1. That’s my favorite of the photos, Derrick. I’ve sometimes been able to line up pairs of flowers, but this was a sort of floral trifecta. I’m glad you like it, too.

  7. They are a gorgeous colour. Super photos! I love the atmosphere in the final shot. I grew a tiny blue sisyrinchium in pots for a number of years. They were probably only 4 inches tall. How big are these please?

    1. The more time I spend with our blue flowers, the more I find myself appreciating them. Blue’s never been a favorite color, but who wouldn’t enjoy these?

      The plants in the first two photos were about 4″ tall, while those in the third photo were about 10″. I suspect the difference was some mowing that had taken place; the taller ones were in a ditch that clearly had been neglected. It seems they can grow to a height of 12″, but the ones I see always are shorter than that.

  8. At least I don’t feel lonesome sittin’ here with your implanted earworm. You seem to have infected a whole group of closet singers who secretly love both kinds of music: Country AND Western. (Thanks, Blues Brothers.)

    These diminutive blue eyes are easy to take for granted in the spring until they’re gone one day. That shade of blue in big patches is so wonderful, and then, as you look closely and see the pattern of the petals, the design and colors in the throat – if they were the size of a rose, there might not be any more roses planted.

    Time for some guacamole and chips and then: TURN UP THE VOLUME!

    “Some day when we meet up yonder
    We’ll stroll hand-in-hand again”

    1. Sneaky, huh? When you think about it, one of Willie’s greatest achievements might have been implanting his songs even into the subconscious of people who think they hate C&W. On the other hand, Willie, Waylon, and the boys weren’t too bad, either. Like everything else in the world, Luckenbach’s changed, but Gary P.s paean to my adopted state still rings true, evoking Texas just like a true-blue wildflower.

      Just this afternoon, after some queso and chips, talk turned to music, travel, and my favorite road mantra: “Windows down, volume up!” There are flowers waiting.

  9. I have SO been enjoying your spring flower photos! I mostly read blogs at work, but can’t remember my wordpress login there, and then when I get home I don’t have the energy for blogs until the weekend. I’m going to try to remember to look up that password the next time I’m on my laptop.

    1. See? I haven’t forgotten you. I’ve been in the process of deadline meeting at work and catchng up in other ways, and I sure could use another of those four day weeks! I’m glad you’re enjoying the flowers. You’re not doing too badly in that department yourself — and you’ve got colorful birds to go with them. Those are some real blessings to count!

    1. Every time someone mentions forget-me-nots, I have to look them up again. Apparently they weren’t common when I was growing up, and there are only a couple of native species here in north Texas: Spring Forget-me-not, Myosotis verna, and Large-Seed Forget-me-not, Myosotis macrosperma. They bloom from March to May. They are a sweet flower, and some of the blues I found in photos of them certainly do resemble this very fine blue.

  10. I love the blue eyed grass. When I spotted a blooming clump by the Sid of the road my street ends at I dug it up and moved it to a flower bed. It’s been exceptional this year.

    1. It has been a good year for the blue beauties, although down on Galveston Island on Sunday I found hundreds of a different species: the dwarf blue-eyed grass, or pink blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium minus). Most were the standard purple/white/yellow combo, but I found one pink one. They’re really amazing — I can’t wait to post photos of those! At first I thought I’d found a pink variant of the blue-eyed grass but now I think it’s the different species.

  11. I love the blue and purple flowers that show up spread amongst the greenery. They provide such a nice, though sometimes subtle, dash of the color you mentioned. Right now we have a small violet as well as some even smaller blue flowers (can’t recall what they are at the moment) blooming along some trails and I just love seeing them as I walk by. Granted, it can be difficult to walk by without stopping at each one and attempting to photograph.

    1. I grew up with violets everywhere, and they provided the same kind of accent to our lawns. North of Houston, violets are more common, but they’re relatively rare down here. The blue-eyed grass certainly makes up for it, and also the bluets: one of our earliest spring ephemerals. I smiled at your comment about stopping to photograph each one. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I have four dozen photos of a species, which ought to be enough — but it rarely is.

  12. What a great floral print for a skirt — a stand of blue-eyed grass. If those other headed grasses are what I think they are, we used to pick the seed heads. We’d put our forearms together palm-up, slide the seed head out of our palms and move our arms in opposite directions to get the seed head to “climb” up to our elbows. It goes in the direction opposite to the way the bristles point, oddly enough.

    1. Your comment started me thinking about the ways plants were part of our childhoods. My dolls often had tea parties where plantain seeds were served, and of course we “flew” the helicopter-like elm seeds and floated leaf boats in the streets. We were comfortable in nature in a way that too many of today’s kids aren’t; it’s no wonder they can be tempted by wholly artificial ‘metaverses.’

    1. We’re blessed with months of beautiful blooms, from the spectacular (those bluebonnets!) to the subtle blue-eyed grass and bluets. There’s always something to see and share, especially my favorites. Of course, I like to say my favorite flower is the one I’m looking at, so there’s that!

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