Blaze of Blue #1: Narrowleaf blue-eyed grass

You will find narrowleaf blue-eyed grass (Sisirynchium angustifolium) growing along moist roadsides including along Oslo Road near the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area (ORCA). It’s not a grass, though. Common names often are confusing.

The foliage of this clumping perennial native wildflower that can to be about 20″ tall if not mowed is grass-like at first glance. Look more closely, and you may notice that this plant is a member of the Iris family, Iridaceae. If you were to dig it up, you would discover a small bulb-like structure.

Its genus name Sisyrinchium is derived from 2 Greek works, sys (pig) and rhynchus (snout). Pigs as will dig up and consume its roots. Its species name anugustifolium refers to the narrow foliage.

Flowering often is profuse in the spring. Its six-petaled flowers have yellow centers, darkened venation near the center of the flower, and tufted tips. The flowers open around noon and close up by the end of the day. Bees and small butterflies visit the flowers.

The population of narrowlead blue-eyed grass on the north side of Oslo Road at ORCA is threatened by the invasive plant, creeping oxeye (Sphagneticola trilobata). Also know as wedelia or weed-elia, this plant can quickly colonize and overtake desirable native plants, as shown below.

Despite its invasiveness, creeping oxeye remains for sale in Florida. Avoid purchasing this plant, and if you have it in your yard, try to hand pull it. Even a tiny piece of this plant will re-sprout, however.

Look for narrowleaf blue-eyed grass in wet pine flatwoods, wet prairies and moist open habitats like roadsides.

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