Growing Yellow-Eyed Grass In The Garden
Yellow-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium californicum) is one of the most common plants in gardens. It grows well in a wide range of soil types, but it prefers moist soils with good drainage. It tolerates some shade, but does best when grown near other annuals such as clover or ferns. It is not frost tender, but it will die back if exposed to cold temperatures.
The leaves are opposite, oblong-shaped and up to 1/2 inch long. They have three leaflets each with five petals and four sepals. Each leaflet bears two white flowers which bloom from May through July. Flowers are followed by seed pods containing seeds that germinate in about six weeks after they emerge from the pod.
Seeds are small, oval and dark brown.
When growing yellow-eyed grass, keep in mind that it likes full sun and partial shade. If you grow it in a container, make sure there is enough light so that the roots don’t get starved of water. Water regularly during dry periods. You may want to use a drip irrigation system to prevent excess watering.
Yellow-eyed grass is not picky about soil, but add some organic matter if the soil is on the heavy or compacted side. Yellow-eyed grass is hardy in zones nine through 11, so gardeners in colder zones will need to protect it during the winter months.
The California forget-me-not (Sisyrinchium californicum), also known as California blue-eyed grass, is a plant that requires full sun and well-draining soil. It can be grown from seed, and a batch of seeds should produce thousands of offspring. Although it survives in the wild in all but the most sandy soil types, gardeners growing the California blue-eyed grass should mix regular potting soil with sand or perlite to promote drainage. Young plants may begin to bloom within a month of planting.
Although it looks similar to other members of the sunflower family, the California blue-eyed grass is sterile and cannot spread through seed. It is most often found in California, but it also grows in Washington and Oregon.
The California blue-eyed grass is a fine choice for naturalizing in the rock garden or as a companion to spring bulbs. It may also be grown in hanging baskets or green roofs. It is deer resistant and can even be planted in areas that are prone to flooding.
Yellow Eyed Grass – Sisyrinchium Calcareum
The Yellow Eyed Grass is a member of the Iris family and naturally grows in meadows, by streams, and on hillsides. It is hardy from USDA zones 4 to 10. Yellow-Eyed Grass is often found growing along with Jack-in-the-Pulpit and Trillium. The native Americans regarded this plant as poisonous.
Yellow Eyed Grass grows from a thick, white, fleshy taproot. It has between 5 and 17 narrow, linear leaves that are 7 to 20 inches long and 1/8 to 1/2 of an inch wide. It produces one yellow flower on each stem that is about an inch across. The flowers have six petals, six stamens, and a three-parted style.
The plant blooms from May to July.
Yellow Eyed Grass grows best in moist, rich, well-draining soil with full sun. It does not tolerate competition and can easily be killed by too much shade. The flowers are attractive to bees, butterflies, and birds.
The leaves and roots of this plant can be boiled and eaten. They were also mashed, dried, and mixed with tobacco for smoking. The flowers were made into drinks and often added to wine.
Yellow-Eyed Grass Gallery
Sisyrinchium Calcareum (CA Blues)
There are many plants that could be considered “weeds”, but few are as pretty and easy to grow as the “California Blue-eyed Grass” (Sisyrinchium Calcareum). It also has a very interesting method of seed dispersal, making it a good demonstration plant for kids.
This short annual wildflower grows best in full sun. It has a thick, fleshy taproot. The leaves are green on the top side and light green or gray on the underside and are shaped like a lance. They grow 7 to 20 inches long and are usually only up to an inch wide.
The leaves arise from the base of the plant on long stems.
The flowers emerge from the leaf axils and can either be solitary or occur in small clusters. Each flower is shaped rather like a trumpet and has a long, light green “trumpet”. The “bell” of the flower is yellow or green and has purple spots inside. The seed pod that develops after the flower opens has a tuft of hair at its tip (thus the common name “Blue-eyed Grass”).
The seed pod twists open at the tip when it is ripe, shooting out the seeds like a cannon to help ensure distribution. This plant blooms from April to August.
The Zuni Indians used a decoction of the whole plant to bathe sore eyes. This was not a common use, but is interesting since one of this plant’s common names is “Blue-eyed Grass”. The large number of flowers and the fact that each has a single blue spot makes me wonder if the name comes from the flowers’ appearance or if it comes from the fact that each plant has a single blue eye.
The “Blue-eyed Grass” is a good alternative to the more common “Buttercups”. It has larger flowers and blooms over a longer period of time. It can easily be grown in almost any well-drained soil in full sun. It also grows well in sandy or gravelly soil and is not at all fussy about what it grows in.
It does not need rich soil to bloom. It is tolerant of drought once it has become established.
Due to its long blooming period, its showy flowers, and its interesting seed dispersal system, the “Blue-eyed Grass” makes an excellent addition to any flower garden.
CA Blues Gallery
Acmispon Americanus (Western Dusty Mules Ears)
Acmispon americanum is a short-lived perennial with a shallow, fibrous root system. This plant has no stem. The leaves are arranged in a tight rosette. These leaves are fuzzy and gray-green in color.
The leaves have a rough, sandpapery texture and are shaped like a mule’s ear. Each leaf is made up of between 5 and 15 leaflets (usually 7). These leaflets are usually 1 to 3 inches long and 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches wide. The terminal leaflet is the largest and is longer than the others.
The inflorescence, which emerges from the center of the rosette, has 1 to 9 flowers. Each flower is about 1 to 3 inches across and each has a fringe of bright orange or red hairs around its yellow petals. The 5 sepals are green and shaped like a mule’s ears. The center part of the flower is yellow.
There is a ring of bright red stamens around a disk of yellow pistils. The flowers are very attractive to bees, butterflies, and other insects.
The fruits are egg-shaped, flat pods that are dark brown when ripe. These pods are between 1/2 and 1 inch long and contain rough, sandpapery seeds.
This plant grows in sandy or gravelly soil. It is an endemic species, which means that it occurs naturally in California and is not found anywhere else in the world. This plant is fairly common in the western part of the state, but is rare or absent in the eastern part of California.
This plant is very easy to grow. It thrives in sandy or gravelly soil with little water. It needs some sunlight to grow well. This plant also makes an excellent groundcover for gardens that have the right soil conditions.
CA Acmspon Gallery
More Plant Portraits
Sources & references used in this article:
Fusarium xyrophilum, sp. nov., a member of the Fusarium fujikuroi species complex recovered from pseudoflowers on yellow-eyed grass (Xyris spp.) from Guyana by I Laraba, HS Kim, RH Proctor, M Busman, K O’Donnell… – Mycologia, 2020 – Taylor & Francis
Micropropagation and seed cryopreservation of the critically endangered species Tennessee yellow-eye grass, Xyris tennesseensis Kral by T Johnson, JM Cruse-Sanders, GS Pullman – … Developmental Biology-Plant, 2012 – Springer
New plant sources for drugs and foods from the New York Botanical Garden Herbarium by S Von Reis, FJ Lipp – 1982 – books.google.com
Columella’s Garden by P Murray – The Virginia Quarterly Review, 1964 – search.proquest.com
Population genetics of a rare wetland species, the Tennessee yellow-eyed grass (Xyris tennesseensis, Xyridaceae) by KM Downey, CJ Baskauf – Conservation Genetics, 2020 – Springer