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2014 Kansas Wildflower of the Year

Blue-eyed Grass

About Blue-eyed Grass: Sisyrinchium genus

blue-eyed grass
Prairie blue-eyed grass

Blue-eyed Grass is the common name for the genus Sisyrinchium, which is composed of five species in Kansas. Three of these species are quite rare in the state. The genus is composed of about 150 species, all found in the New World, and about 40 species in the United States. Sisyrinchium is a challenging genus due to slight morphological differences among species.

The Blue-eyed Grasses are not grasses but members of the Iris (Iridaceae) family. All have grass-like foliage, and some have blue flowers, while others have flowers that range in color from blue to white. Their fruits are spherical capsules.

Garden Use

The spring flowering Blue-eyed Grasses prefer well-drained soils. They can be propagated by seed or divisions. Their abundant blooms, attractive foliage, and diminutive habit make them handsome additions to gardens.

Narrow-leaf Blue-eyed Grass: Sisyrinchium angustifolium

Narrow-leaf Blue-eyed Grass is native to the extreme eastern part of Kansas. It may grow to 12 inches tall and is usually found in moist woodlands and sometimes prairies. The flowers may be light blue, violet, or occasionally white. The foliage is dark green rather than the blue-green color seen in the more common S. campestre. The individual flowers are found on branching stems.

Prairie Blue-eyed Grass: Sisyrinchium campestre

blue-eyed grass
Prairie blue-eyed grass by Phyllis Luedke

Prairie Blue-eyed Grass is native to the eastern half of Kansas. Pale blue to white flowers with yellow centers appear in spring. Its bluish-green foliage is stunning, with the colorful flowers resting on top. This is the most common species in Kansas, found almost exclusively on prairies. It's also known as Prairie white-eyed Grass.

Sword-leaf Blue-eyed Grass: Sisyrinchium ensigerum

Sword-leaf Blue-eyed Grass is a very rare plant in Kansas, known only from Harper and Kingman counties. The center of its range is Oklahoma and Texas. Look for its blue flowers on 6 to 8 inch clumps in sandy roadsides, meadows, and prairies.

Mountain Blue-eyed Grass: Sisyrinchium montanum var. montanum

Mountain Blue-eyed Grass is a state rare plant known from seven counties (Cheyenne, Ford, Hamilton, Meade, Sherman, Stafford, and Sumner) mostly in the western half of the state. The Rocky Mountain states are the center of its range where it can be found in prairies, meadows, and open coniferous woods. Stems and leaves frequently are bluish-green. Dark blue or violet-colored flowers are very showy on 6 to 10 inch clumps. It is also known as Strict Blue-eyed Grass.

Dotted Blue-eyed Grass: Sisyrinchium pruinosum

Dotted Blue-eyed Grass is a very rare plant in Kansas, known only from Kingman County. The center of its range is the southern United States where it can be found in prairies. Light green foliage and slender stems grow to 6 to 12 inches in length. The flowers are violet-blue to light purple. It is also known as Roadside Blue-eyed Grass.

blue-eyed grass
Prairie blue-eyed grass by Phyllis Luedke
blue-eyed grass
Prairie blue-eyed grass by Phyllis Luedke