Saturday, February 12, 2011
Common Yellow Stargrass - Hypoxis curtissii
Common yellow stargrass (Hypoxis curtissii) is a diminutive member of the Hypoxidaceae family, though it has at times been included as an iris and as a lily. Regardless, it is a monocot - like the lilies, irises, and amaryllises and arises each spring from a tiny bulb. Yellow stargrass is common to most of Florida, in moist woodlands. Its national range is restricted to the Deep South - from Texas to North Carolina.
Yellow stargrass is a perennial that dies back to the ground during a brief period in winter. In warm years, however, it is possible to find it in bloom at any time. Elliptical sedge-like leaves extend about 6-12 inches from the bulb, but often lie near the ground instead of standing upright. In fact, the leaf shape is the easiest way to tell this species apart from its equally common cousin - Hypoxis juncea.
A single yellow flower is produced at any one time, though individual plants may produce more than one flower during the year. These are bright canary-yellow in color, about 1 inch across and consist of six petals in a star-shaped arrangement. Flowering in the southern half of Florida can occur during any month, but is often confined to spring through fall elsewhere. The flowers are showy, but are held close to the ground.
Yellow stargrass is not available commercially to the best of my knowledge and we do not propagate it at Hawthorn Hill. If you had access to a source, it should be used in an open sunny, moist setting that does not stay dry for long - especially during the hot summer months. Use it in the front of a garden and make sure it does not get crowded out by taller more-aggressive species.
Look for yellow stargrass any time you are hiking in flat open areas in Florida. You may have to look close for it, but once your eye is trained to see it, I expect you will see it often.