WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 

Actually, it’s not a grass. This member of the Iris Family has thin, flat, grass-like leaf blades, forms dense 6–18-inch tall clumps, and shows off with dainty, star-shaped violet flowers. Note the winged stems are single, not branching, and the inner and outer bracts of the spathe that encloses the flowers are unequal.


FLOWER: May–June. Each 1/2–3/4-inch wide flower, has 6 petals (tepals) and a yellow center and a bright yellow stamen column. Petals are dark blue to purple with a yellow base, narrow, lance-shaped, and often tipped with a tiny bristle. A purse-like, keel-shaped spathe with the inner bract shorter than the outer bract encloses the flowers.


LEAVES: Basal, grass-like. Blades narrow, 5–10 inches long (2–4 cm).


HABITAT: Moist soils, meadows, drainages, seeps, moist forests: pinyon-juniper, pine-fir, spruce-aspen forests.


ELEVATION: 6,500–9,400 feet


RANGE: CO, KS, MT, ND, NE, NM, SD, WY; Great Lakes east through New England states.


SIMILAR SPECIES: 6 species in NM; 2 yellow, and 2 widespread blue species that have slight differences in the spathe. The widespread Stiff Blue-eyed Grass, S. demissum (4,500–9,100 feet), has branched stems and spathes with bracts equal in length.


NM COUNTIES: Cibola, Colfax, Dona Ana, Grant, Guadalupe, Harding, Los Alamos, Mora, San Miguel, Sandoval, Socorro, Rio Arriba, Taos, Torrance, Union.

MOUNTAIN  BLUE-EYED  GRASS

SISYRINCHIUM  MONTANUM

Iris Family, Iridaceae

Perennial herb

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The outer bract (top arrow) of the keel-shaped spathe (bottom arrow) is longer than the inner bract.

The flat, winged stems do not have branches at the nodes.

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