It’s easy to overlook the long leaf bluet flowers in the spring as they are small, the plants are small and delicate. Once spotted, that delicacy makes them easy to identify and worth watching for in other places.
Houstonia longifolia Gaertn.
April to July, rarely fall N Family: Rubiaceae
Flower: Irregular clusters of flowers branch out of stem tips. A few flowers open randomly at a time. Each flower has a stalk as long as the flower, about half an inch. The flower has a cup-shaped, green calyx with four teeth around the base. The flower is a half inch long tube that splits into four or five lobes that spread out flat a quarter inch across. This flower can be white to purplish pink and is covered with hairs. A flower may be a pistillate one having a pistil and shriveled stamens or have several stamens and a shriveled pistil.
Leaf: There can be a basal rosette, but this is usually gone before the plant blooms. Opposite leaves line the branches. More small branches of leaves come from the leaf axils. Each leaf is green, half to an inch long and less than a quarter inch wide.
Stem: Each crown puts up numerous stems. The stems are green with four angles, branches and can reach ten inches tall. The upper branches have terminal flower clusters.
Root: The perennial root is a crown with fibrous roots.
Fruit: The seed pod is a globular, two sided capsule with several seeds in each side. This turns brown and dries so the capsule splits to release the seeds.
Habitat: This plant prefers sunny, drier places and can be common in prairies, open woods, pastures and roadsides.
Long Leaf Bluet
Walking along this plant catches attention due to the number of flowers on it. Long Leaf Bluets are a leggy plants. Everything about them is slender, the leaves, the stems and the flowers.
The stem is less than an eighth of an inch in diameter. The leaves are about an eighth of an inch wide. The flowers are a quarter of an inch across. This leaves the plant looking delicate and leggy although it’s less than a foot tall.
The flowers usually look light pink to white. These show up well against the dark green leaves. The many clusters are full of buds so lots of flowers open each day.
Long Leaf Bluets are moving into rock gardens. They are easy to grow from seed and return bigger every year. They are not fussy about soil and don’t mind a bit of dryness.