Houstonia pusilla (Tiny Bluet): Often Missed Early Spring Wildflower

Houstonia pusilla (Tiny Bluet) on 4-3-22, #864-3.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. The first early spring wildflowers are off and running and I feel like I have come back to life. Well, I am somewhat tardy since some have been blooming for a while now. I was on a walk to the back of the farm on Sunday and spotted a couple of good-sized colonies of dainty wildflowers. Hmmm… HOLY CRAP! I had not identified these before!

Houstonia pusilla (Tiny Bluet) on 4-3-22, #864-2.

It seems early spring wildflowers are the same every year. The first, whether you notice them or not, are usually Veronica persica (Bird’s-Eye Speedwell). They are the wildflowers that are so tiny you can easily miss them and start blooming when they are still tiny plants. They are followed rather abruptly by Capsella bursa-pastoris (Shepherd’s Purse)Lamium amplexicaule (Henbit), Lamium purpureum (Deadnettle), and Stellaria media (Common Chickweed). The Glechoma hederacea (Ground Ivy) start flowering at about the same time in some areas (in the sun) while the ones in the shade bloom a little later.

Houstonia pusilla (Tiny Bluet) on 4-3-22, #864-6.

Back to the Tiny Bluet… I seem to remember seeing these before somewhere but it was so long ago I had forgotten when and where. Seeing them in the back pasture close to the pond kind of jogged my memory, kind of like deja vu…

Houstonia pusilla (Tiny Bluet) on 4-3-22, #864-7.

Houstonia pusilla is a member of the plant family Rubiaceae along with Cleavers (Galium aparine). You know, the silly plant that sticks to everything.

Houstonia pusilla (Tiny Bluet) on 4-3-22, #864-4.

Actually, the hairy leaves reminded me more of Cerastium glomeratum (Sticky Mouse-Ear Chickweed/Clammy Chickweed) which is in the family Caryophyllaceae… Hmmm… I haven’t seen those for a while.

Houstonia pusilla (Tiny Bluet) on 4-3-22, #864-8.

The flowers of the Houstonia pusilla are trumpet-shaped and have 4-lobed calyces, 1-4 mm long. Just glancing from above, you wouldn’t even notice the flowers are even trumpet-shaped.

Houstonia pusilla (Tiny Bluet) on 4-3-22, #864-9.

One of the colonies had darker, more purplish flowers. Flowers of the Houstonia pusilla are usually sky blue or lavender, but can also be white or pink. All have the reddish ring around the throat that seems to radiate outward.

This species is a winter annual with a fairly weak root system. They only grow 2-4″ tall and blooms in March and April. Apparently, they prefer growing in bare spots where they don’t have much competition with grass. Who could blame them, they are so small and wouldn’t get noticed otherwise.

At last, spring seems to be here. The grass in the backyard already needs mowing. The plants inside are itching to get back on the porches for the summer but they will have to wait a little longer. The wild crocus have bloomed and soon the tulips will have their chance. The Grape Hyacinths are at it now but there don’t seem to be as many as before.

Winter has been weird with temps up and down. The Hosta… Well, it appears ‘Empress Wu’ may be the only one that survived the winter. I keep checking and hopefully, they will return. I have had some of them since 2009…

I am STILL writing descriptions for some of the wildflowers and I still have 20 or so to finish! It is a winter project but I have been kind of lazy in that respect. I get caught up watching a series or a movie instead of working on descriptions. GEEZ!!!

Since the weather is warming up nicely I will have more to write about…

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful. It is getting time to GET DIRTY!