Monday, March 18, 2024

Tiny Bluet - Houstonia pusilla


Tiny bluet (Houstonia pusilla) is a diminutive member of a genus that also includes the widespread wildflower commonly known as Innocence (Houstonia procumbens).  This species, however, is confined to the entire Panhandle region of Florida.  It also is common throughout much of the Eastern and Midwestern portions of the U.S., except the most northern tier of states.  Throughout its extensive range, it is found in a variety of mesic open habitats.  Tiny bluet is an annual that makes its appearance in winter when its tiny rosette of basal leaves become noticeable.  The mostly glabrous rounded leaves are about 1/4 inch long, opposite along the flower stem and sessile.  

Flowering occurs in very early spring.  The flower stalks stand about 2 inches tall at maturity and a solitary flower is produced at the top of each.  The individual flowers are also tiny - about 1/4 inches across and composed of 4 oval pink to bluish purple petals with a deeper rose center.  Although each bloom is small, a patch of tiny bluet is quite showy.  I suspect that they are pollinated mostly by small bees, though I have no experience with this plant.  As an annual, this plant needs to reseed to persist and it requires open ground to do that effectively.

In the right conditions, I suspect that this annual would persist if grown from seed. I have never seen it offered for sale by any of the nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries, but seed is sometimes offered from out-of-state sources.  I have never tried it or attempted to grow this species here in central Florida where it is well outside of its natural range. 

The photographs in this post were taken by Floyd Griffith and used by permission.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, my husband and I have just moved to Florida and are trying to get our landscaping business off the ground. I am trying to encourage customers to consider native wildflowers and bushes as an alternative to the usual landscaping plants such as Ti Leaf plants for a more eco diverse landscape. When talking to people about the benefits of wildflowers what have you found to be a good starter plant that can help ease someone into the idea of using wildflowers for landscaping instead of considering them all weeds?

    Fun fact, these plants used to be used medicinally to treat gout and can also be brewed as a tea! Not sure I would want to drink that tea!

    Thanks, Celeste
    Partner at Landscaping Pros of Homestead


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