BLUE-EYED-GRASS

Sisyrinchium bermudiana

Iris Family [Iridaceae]

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july

status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8blue
 
inner
inner8yellow
 
morph
morph8actino
 
petals
petalsZ6
 
stem
stem8round
 
stem
stem8winged
( 2 )
rarity
rarityZscarce
 



1st June 2014, Nob End SSSI, Bolton, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
Note the lower part of the stem which is winged, like a green plastic tie-wrap.


1st June 2014, Nob End SSSI, Bolton, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
The same stem as above but turned 90° to show the flatness of the main stem.


26th June 2013, Nob End SSSI, Bolton, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
If only one specimen is branched (as here) that means the population must be the bermudiana rather than montanum species. Each branch has a single flower. A characteristic of Blue-eyed-Grasses is the Sedge-like spike that towers above the flowers.


1st June 2014, Nob End SSSI, Bolton, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
These specimens all have tepals that are light-blue on the outside and deep blue-purple on the top-most surface (which means it must be the montanum species). Note the tiny oval-shaped slightly hairy green ovary (common to both species). Petals furled up before opening. There are two sheaths each side of the flower stalk, which splits near the top into two or three for the individual flowers. Right at the bottom of the photo where there is a bulge and a purplish band the flower stalk merges with the two wings of the main stem.


17th June 2013, Nob End SSSI, Bolton, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
The deep-purple lumpy covering below the wrinkled petals of an old flower contains the fruits (I think).


17th June 2013, Nob End SSSI, Bolton, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
The deep-purple wrapping around the fruits starts to part as the fruit expands.


17th June 2013, Nob End SSSI, Bolton, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
The fruits are suspended between two structures that are curved over 180° (which is said to be characteristic of the bermudiana species).


17th June 2013, Nob End SSSI, Bolton, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
The flowers themselves are all less than 20mm across (a characteristic of bermudiana species). They have six tepals which are deep blue-purple on the uppermost (said to be characteristic of monata species). A single stamen arises up the centre supporting a fluted anther bearing yellow pollen.


26th June 2013, Nob End SSSI, Bolton, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
The tips of all tepals possess a point. The enlarged spheres beside the flower are (I think) the cases containing the fruits.


26th June 2013, Nob End SSSI, Bolton, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
Throat of flower has a six-stared fluorescent-yellow-looking mark.


1st June 2014, Nob End SSSI, Bolton, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
The single stamen is purplish with yellow hairs nearer the origin. Many anthers atop a single (probably fused?) stamen.


26th June 2013, Nob End SSSI, Bolton, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
The stem of the plant is highly unusual, appearing to be flat and grass-like (hence the common name) but closer inspection reveals that it has a central round stem, which makes the two flat parts either side wings. Your Author had to angle the stem carefully to catch the light in order to highlight this slight bulge running down the centre, in reality it is hardle noticeable as the photo below shows.


17th June 2013, Nob End SSSI, Bolton, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
Showing the true thinness of the stem and leaves - which are really greyish-green in hue. The stems also usually have a helical twist of at least half a turn and sometimes a full 360° on their way to the flower, but your Author was unable to get a clear photo depicting this aspect. The shape is reminiscent of those white paper sandwich-bag tie-wraps with the wire running down the middle inside it.


The Sisyrinchium (Blue-eyed-Grasses) genus should not to be semantically confused with the similar sounding Genus Sisymbrium [Rockets].

Not to be semantically confused with Black-Eyed-Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) a yellow flower belonging to the Dandelion & Daisy Family (Asteraceae).

Easily mis-identified as : American Blue-eyed-Grass (Sisyrinchium montanum) but that has deeper blue flowers that are usually larger at 25-35mm across (rather than 15-20mm of Blue-eyed-Grass and the above photographs). Any colony of Blue-eyed-Grass also has some specimens with branched stems with a single flower atop each one [and a single branched specimen was found - so it qualifies as Blue-eyed-Grass in this respect] whereas American Blue-eyed-Grass is un-branched, and the flowers are upright when it is in fruit (rather than arched as here and in Blue-eyed-Grass). But Blue-eyed-Grass grows in wet meadows and stony ground by lakes whereas the photos above and American Blue-eyed-Grass grow in grassland. So, the above specimens qualify as Blue-eyed-Grass in most respects apart from two: the habitat (Nob End is not near a lake, nor is it a wet meadow) and the colour of the flower which is not pale-blue (unless Clive Stace means pale-blue on the outside of the petals rather than on the inside - but he doesn't say that).

On account of the above photographs not having pale-blue flowers your Author originally decided that these were American Blue-eyed-Grass until he discovered a single specimen with a branch which immediately disqualifies it. But that still leaves the blue/violet flowers of the above specimens not matching the specified requirement of pale-blue for Blue-eyed-Grass and it was not growing in a wettish area. It could be American Blue-eyed-Grass but then all the other physical parameters will be in-correct. You pay your money and take your choice.

If it is any consolation, another wildflower website has the same population at Nob End down as American Blue-eyed-Grass, but even they have reservations about its true identity. Maybe I should enter the same population twice, as both species. In the third week of July 2013 the Ranger for Nob End (and Moses Bank Country Park - but who has since retired) came upon your Author who informed me that the general opinion was that it was bermudiana, so it looks as though your Author backed the correct horse (purely by luck as it seems).

Prof. Clive Stace says that it is often mistaken for American Blue-eyed-Grass (Sisyrinchium montanum), especially in Ireland. Your Author thinks he can understand why: neither flower description fits the actual flower! Perhaps the key is wrong? Or maybe the plant itself has got it wrong ~

It occurs to your Author that this plant is in a   quantum superposition of the two states, being neither montanum nor bermudiana, but that ill-defined intermediate between the two both at once, a quantum entanglement of the two forms connected by a worm-hole. Only by observing the plant can the wave-function collapse into one or the other form. In this instance the quantum state has collapsed into bermudiana, but to another observer it collapsed into the  montanum form.

Some similarities to : Yellow-Eyed-Grass (Sisyrinchium californicum) but that has bright yellow flowers and to Pale Yellow-Eyed-Grass (Sisyrinchium striatum) but that has paler yellow flowers.

Slight similarities to Gentians in that it is blue/violet with six petals, but closer inspection soon reveals the many huge differences.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : Un-mistakably a Blue-eyed-Grass, one out of a possible two. The strip-like stem is a real giveaway and on its up to 30cm length it is usually twisted by at least half a turn.

No relation to : Blue-eyed Mary (Omphalodes verna) [a plant with similar name belonging to a different family].

It is NOT A GRASS.

Unusually the stem is very flattened, almost like one of those white paper tie-wraps used to close sandwich bags (those strips of paper with a wire going down the inside middle). You could say that the stem was round (it is, but of very small diameter) with two wings either side, which is how the stem is described in the properties section. The stems also usually have a twist.

The status of the plant is questionable - it may have been introduced from America, or it may be native. Many are escapees from gardens.


  Sisyrinchium bermudiana  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Iridaceae  

Distribution
 family8Iris family8Iridaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Sisyrinchium
Sisyrinchium
(Blue-eyed-grasses)

BLUE-EYED-GRASS

Sisyrinchium bermudiana

Iris Family [Iridaceae]