Blue eyed grass


For those whose lawns are bermudagrass, centipede, St. Augustine or another warm-season grass, you have a yard full of brown at present. If you look closely you might see what appears to be another grass creeping into it. Where turf becomes thin, this little invader appears, but it’s usually unnoticed.

In about a month if you’re observant you’ll realize this plant isn’t a true grass after all.  These prostrate light green stems sport pale blue flowers with darker throats. Three yellow tipped stamens surround a single greenish pistil. Some flowers are nearly white while others have more yellow in them. Plants continue to bloom throughout the spring. They are actually relatives of irises.

There are over 75 different species of blue-eyed grass. Some can get almost two feet tall and flower color can vary tremendously. Most live in dry sunny places, but a few species inhabit shaded swampy areas.

By far, the most common wild species we have is the annual blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium rosulatum). It actually is a short lived perennial in this range, not a true annual, but it spreads largely by seed as do most annual weeds.

This species was introduced from South America, but it has become well established along the coastal plain from North Carolina to Texas. It thrives in full sun on sandy soils and doesn’t require high fertility.

Plants rarely get taller than five or six inches. Most never achieve that height, since they have a running growth habit and get razed by lawnmowers regularly. Delicate flowers with six equal petals rarely get much more than a quarter inch in diameter.

Leaf texture is similar to St. Augustine grass and color closely mimics centipede. Plants blend in quite well, so I rarely find them objectionable in either turf. Once the grass greens up in spring most people likely won’t even notice the blue-eyed grass unless they see the flowers.

People who don’t like weeds in their lawn can attack blue-eyed grass in winter, when desired turfgrasses are dormant. If infestations are small, these weeds can be removed by hand, since they are quite easy to spot when the rest of the lawn is brown.

If you feel your lawn can’t coexist with blue-eyed grass and hand weeding is impractical, then chemical control is possible. Triazine herbicides are quite effective against it. Never exceed recommended rates. Pollution and turf injury can occur.

I know of no reports of this plant being desirable to eat, although many species of blue-eyed grasses have been used medicinally to treat diarrhea and other digestive problems. I also am unaware of any parts of it being poisonous either, although it would be if lawn chemicals were used recently.

I do think it has potential for ornamental use in rock gardens. Flowers are small, but they’re striking. They also bloom for a couple months and the creeping foliage adds interesting accent. Plants are easily transplanted as well as being prolific seed producers. They also tolerate dry conditions well. Maybe my students can propagate some for our spring plant sale.

clump of blue-eyed grass with a few birdeye speedwell flowers

clump of blue-eyed grass with a few birdeye speedwell flowers

 

Ted Manzer teaches agriculture in northeastern North Carolina.

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About tedmanzer

I grew up in Old Town Maine and got a B.S. at the University of Maine in Plant Sciences/ minor in Botany. From there I moved to West Virginia and earned a M.S. in Agronomy at WVU. I also met my wife there. She grew up in rural WV as the daughter of tenant farmers who raised cattle and hogs. Their lifestyle at times was one of subsistence and I learned a lot from them. I've always been a foraging buff, but combining my formal botanical knowledge with their practical 'Foxfire-type' background opened up my eyes a little more. I now teach agriculture to high school students at Northeastern High School in Elizabeth City, NC. My wife teaches with me and we make a great team. I also write a weekly nature/foraging column for the local paper (dailyadvance.com) and frequently publish articles in several other newspapers in northeastern North Carolina. I also have written several Christian nature/adventure novels that I plan to publish eventually. One is a five book family saga I call the 'Forgotten Virtues' series. In the first book, Never Alone, a young boy comes of age after his father dies in a plane crash, and he has to make it alone. Never Alone is now available in paperback, Kindle and Nook. The second book, Strange Courage, takes Carl from his High School graduation to his recovery from a nasty divorce. The third book, Second Chances, takes Carl from his ex-wife's death and the custody of his son to his heroic death at age 59. The fourth book, Promises Kept, depicts how his grandchildren react and adjust to his death. In the final book, Grandfather's Way, his youngest and most timid granddaughter emerges from the shadow of her overachieving family and accomplishes more in four months than most do in a lifetime. I use many foraging references with a lot of the plants I profile in these articles in those books.
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14 Responses to Blue eyed grass

  1. jordan2197 says:

    Blue eyed grass is a seasonal type of grass. Blue eyed grass is not an actual specie of grass that you might think of. The grass you have in your yard is actually three different kinds of grass mixed together… Bermuda grass, centipede, and St. Augustine. If you look closely you might see what appears to be another kind of grass creeping in, where turf grass becomes thin this little invader moves right in, but it rarely gets noticed. if you’re observant you’ll realize this plant is not a true grass. They are actually relatives of irises. There are over seventy-five different species of blue eyed grass. The most common wild species we have is the annual blue eyed grass. Blue eyed grass is actually a short-lived perennial in the range, but its really not a true annual, but it spreads largely by seeds like most annual weeds do. Blue eyed grass rarely gets taller than five or six inches, but Most never achieve that height

  2. Blue eyed grass has over 75 different species. Blue eyed grass can be all different sizes. Some can get to two feet tall and flower color can vary tremendously. The flowers are small but striking.

  3. honestly i love the way this stuff looks

  4. curtis24 says:

    When your turf becomes thin the blue eyed grass will appear but you will usually not notice it.the blue eyed grass are relatives of irises.There are over 75 different types of blue eyed grass.This species of grass is the most common we have.

  5. ashleychory says:

    Blue eyed grass is a seasonal type of grass. The grass you have in your yard is actually three different kinds of grass mixed together, Bermuda grass, centipede, and St. Augustine. If you look you will see what appears to be another kind of grass in it, where turf grass becomes thin this moves right in, but it rarely gets noticed. if you look you will realize that this plant is not a true grass. There are over 25 different species of blue eyed grass. The most common wild species we have is the blue eyed grass. Blue eyed grass is actually a short-lived perennial. it spreads largely by seeds like most annual weeds do. Blue eyed grass rarely gets taller than 5 or 6 inches.

  6. There are over 75 different species of blue-eyed grass. Some can get almost two feet tall and flower color can vary. The most common of blue-eyed grass is Sisyrinchium rosulatum, a short lived perennial in this range.

  7. There are over 75 different species of blue-eyed grass. Some can get almost two feet tall and flower color can vary. Most live in dry sunny places, but a few species inhabit shaded swampy areas.Plants rarely get taller than five or six inches.

  8. Morgan Murray says:

    Blue eyed grass can be a hassle to people but I personally like the characteristics of the flower and the weed itself. I think it has potential as a weed. I never knew that there was over 75 different species of it. I also learned that it can grow up to two feet tall. I can see this weed being a potential problem considering how much it spreads. I wouldn’t want my whole yard to be taken over by it but I wouldn’t mind a small amount of it.

  9. Sam DeLaVergne says:

    The blue flowers are very pretty but i agree i wouldn’t want to put this type of plant in a rock bed.

  10. I didn’t know that the most common wild species in this area is the annual blue-eyed grass. The small flowers have a really pretty shade of blue.

  11. the blue eyed grass has always been my favorite type of grass

  12. Blue eyed grass has over 75 different species. Blue eyed grass can be all different sizes.

  13. Hmm it appears like your website ate my first comment (it was super long) so
    I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the
    whole thing. Do you have any points for newbie blog writers?

    I’d genuinely appreciate it.

    • tedmanzer says:

      keep writing because practice can only make you better. Believe me it’s hard to do. I have probably 70 newspaper columns I’ve written and haven’t put pictures with them and posted them yet. I need to get my act together too, but I can’t quit my day job.

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