Eryngo, Too

Blueflower Eryngo ~ Eryngium integrifolium

Despite obvious similarities to the Hooker’s Eryngo currently blooming in my friend’s pasture, the Blueflower Eryngo I occasionally find in east Texas displays narrower bracts, a less-spiny apperance, and smaller, more rounded flowers. Also known as simple leaf eryngo, the plant sometimes is called  blue-flower coyote-thistle, although several other eryngos are known by the name coyote-thistle, including Eryngium vaseyi: a plant endemic to California.

Members of the carrot family, a few Eryngium species host larvae of the Eastern Black Swallowtail butterfly, but blueflower eryngo isn’t one; other members of the genus are better choices for a butterfly garden.

That said, it’s an exceptionally pretty plant that thrives in a moist environment. Found in late summer to early fall in wet pinelands, savannahs, damp woods, and bogs, it’s said to prefer the same areas as pitcher plants and grass pink orchids. In fact, that’s where I found these: in the Big Thicket area of east Texas.


Comments always are welcome.

48 thoughts on “Eryngo, Too

    1. The various Eryngium species grow in a wide variety of environments. Our rattlesnake master (E. yuccifolium) is common on prairies; it can grow quite tall, and has white flowers. It was one of the first native plants I learned to recognize in its earliest stages, because of the yucca-like leaves that underlie its scientific name.

        1. Lucky you! I was a little late last year for a massive bloom on one of our prairies, but there still were enough flowers that I could catch that sweet scent — and enjoy the number of bees who were enjoying the pollen and nectar.

  1. This is an eryngo I’m not familiar with (and WordPress isn’t familiar with the word eryngo, which it red-dot-underlines as I’m typing this). Your close photograph of the opening flowers is especially nice.

    1. At this point, I still haven’t seen ‘your’ deep purple Eryngium leavenworthii, but I did get a grin while looking for an image of that plant on your blog. I’m willing to confirm this image as Hooker’s eryngo. From my comment at the time (2013!), it seems I hadn’t come across it yet.

      I’ve never seen this species outside of the Big Thicket. It seems to be found north of Houston, as well as east, but that’s an area I’ve never explored.

      1. So much to remember, so much to forget. Here’s what botanist Bill Carr says about Eryngium hookeri in Travis County: “Rare in moist calcareous clay in seasonally wet spots in Blackland Prairie grasslands or pastures. No recent reports or specimens.”

  2. Yes, exceptionally pretty, especially up close. But I really like your first image as well with the even light revealing the spiky shape of the flower.

    1. The lack of large bracts, and the generally less-cluttered stems, allow the flowers a little space to shine. This one’s growth habit doesn’t seem as dense as Hooker’s eryngo, and perhaps others. Every time I look at the top photo, I think of it as ‘a constellation of flowers.’

    1. I suspect they do, but oddly enough I’ve never seen pollinators around it. Of course, I’ve only found it a few times, so my experience shouldn’t be a guide. On the other hand, Hooker’s eryngo is a magnet for bees, flies, beetles — every sort of pollinator.

    1. The next time you get to the Big Thicket area, you might find it. I took these photos along the right side of the service road leading into the Solo Tract, and along the boardwalk at the Watson Preserve. They’ve done a good bit of work on the boardwalk, so there are two possibilities: either this one will have been displaced, or it may be thriving even more.

    1. I thought of you and your love of blue when I posted these photos. Even though this native doesn’t make it to your area, there are some cultivars of the Eryngium species native to New England that might be possible as annuals for you. A few have been bred for the most brilliant blue ever — check your catalogues!

  3. In some odd way it reminds me of the representations of COVID – and that’s not a good thing!

    1. Now, that’s an association I never would have made, but sure enough: all those stamens poking out do bear a resemblance to the ‘spikes’ on the virus. Thank goodness the only ill effects from this plant might be from its prickliness!

  4. I’d love to find these mixed in with the grass pinks. They would make a nice combination. As they are among your favorites, I guess we could say “Eryngo bragh”!

    1. I knew someone would finally come up with the most obvious pun on the plant’s name, and you did it! Unfortunately, your chances of seeing this one with the grass pinks is close to zero, since this species doesn’t make it that far north. The more I think about it, the more I wonder about the sources that said these bloom ‘alongside’ grass pinks. I think a better phrase would be ‘in the same areas as.’ I need to research this, but I’m sure the bloom times for the orchids and this eryngo are different enough that seeing them simultaneously would be rare, even though I found these in places where I also photographed grass pinks.

      1. I’d have to travel to see Eryngo so yet another reason to visit Texas. It might be possible for you to see both based on my seeing grass pinks as late as now here in Massachusetts. I don’t know how they overlap timewise there so maybe not. I am always surprised to see the GPs so late as they start around June 7 or so and once in a while I could still see them now.

        1. The latest photo I have of a grass pink is from May 5, and this eryngo is said to bloom from August to October, so even if its bloom was a month or two early, and the grass pinks lingered, I doubt a simultaneous bloom would be likely down here.

    1. I think you’d have a good chance of finding them. When I’ve seen them, they’ve been low-growing, and the flowers are quite small, so they’ll be easier to find once they’ve begun turning color.

  5. A pretty flower, for sure, Linda. My first glimpse reminded me of star thistle, however. I was immediately prejudiced. It’s a different flower totally however. So I was able to enjoy it. –Curt

    1. That’s right. Thistles are in the sunflower family, while these are in the carrot family, along with such delights as dill, parsley, cumin, and Queen Anne’s lace. Personally, I rather enjoy the thistles. Not all are invasive, and they’re terrifically attractive to various pollinators. Even our most horrid bits of prickliness are native, and serve a good purpose — except when they overtake a field or garden, or course. I suspect the ones you despise are invasives like Canada thistle: true horrors, from what I’ve heard.

  6. Interesting this one is also called coyote thistle as, to my eyes, it has less the look of thistle (at least the thistle I’m most familiar with around here) than the other variety. That larger cluster in the first photo almost looks like a constellation of stars.

    1. There’s quite a bit of variety in the Eryngium genus, and the common names seem to get passed around. I found one site where all of the species were called “rattlesnake masters.” That’s a familiar name here, but only for Eryngium yuccifolium: a tall species with white flowers that has yucca-like leaves, and tends to show up in drier areas, like prairies. Apparently it was believed that the plants could heal snakebite, or perhaps repel snakes. I don’t think there’s any proof of either!

    1. And far less prickly. The ones I showed before — Hooker’s Eryngo — seem more dramatic to me, but these are remarkably cute. They’re a very pretty blue, as well.

  7. Well, shoot. You’ve done it again.

    There are at least three species of Eryngo in our area. I’m certain I’ve seen some of them but that was before I became interested in identifying flora. (Yes, I used to wade through beautiful flowers in pursuit of birds without a thought as to their names.)

    Your photographs are really special. Thank you for motivating me to try harder.

    1. I’ve missed getting any really nice photos of the blooms of one species that’s over almost all of your state: Eryngium yuccifolium, or rattlesnake master. With its height and white flowers, it’s quite a sight. You have E. aquaticum, too, which doesn’t come close to Texas.

      I had to laugh. I used to pass by birds without a thought, while in pursuit of flowers. Everyone starts somewhere, but eventually we all realize that John Muir was right: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

    1. So often what someone describes as ‘blue’ I see as lavender or purple, but in the case of these flowers, the blue is obvious, and so pretty. Blue isn’t my favorite color for flowers, but I very much like these.

  8. Very pretty. You’ve been introducing me to lots of new things as this is one more I don’t believe I’ve ever seen. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been to East Texas.

    1. I like this one for its truer-blue color, and that cute little marble-like shape. The flower is neat and compact, and I almost missed it because it was so close to the ground. The species I see around here (the one in the other post) is much taller and clumpier. There’s no missing it.

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