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Sisyrinchium montanum

Blue-eyed grass

Plant Details

Common Name: Blue-eyed grass
Family: Iridaceae (iris family)
Mature Height: 6" - 2'
Sun Requirement: Sun, Sun to part shade, Part shade to shade
Moisture Requirement: Dry, Dry - medium, Medium - moist
Flower Color: Blue, Violet
Bloom Time: Early summer (June - July)
Seed Collection Date: Mid summer (July - August)

Sisyrinchium montanum - American blue-eyed grass
Sisyrinchium montanum - American blue-eyed grass

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Sisyrinchium is from Greek for sys “pig,” and rynchos, “snout,” alluding to pigs grubbing the roots for food; montanum is Latin for mountain, referring to the plant’s habitat.

Native Habitat

Forest edges, meadows, fields, and river and lake shorelines.

Garden Uses

This plant naturalizes well and is happiest when allowed to roam in the garden.


Blue-eyed grass is an herbaceous perennial that forms small clumps. Plants grow 6 - 12 in. tall in sun, part shade and shade in medium to moist soil. Blue-eyed grass is not a grass, rather a member of the iris family and grows from rhizomatous roots. Although it may be short-lived, it self-seeds freely.

Leaves and Stems

The grass-like leaves are linear and bright green and tend to be about 1/8” wide and 2 ½” – 6” long. A fan of leaves arises from a single basal source. The wider leaves distinguish it from the more rare needle-tipped blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium mucronatum) which has leaves closer to 1/16" wide.


Six-petaled, violet-blue, star-like flowers are solitary or in small clusters at the tip of flowering stalks. Blue-eyed grass blooms in June -- the flowers open in the morning and close in the afternoon. The flowers have nectar guides on their petals, which are irresistible to the bees and wasps which pollinate them. The bright yellow center of the flower is another attractant for bees.


Each flower forms a small round seed capsule that holds two or more tiny black seeds. The 1/8” to ¼” green seed capsules darken with age as they ripen.

Animal Associates

The plant is pollinated by members of the Hymenoptera family (bees and wasps). Birds eat the seeds. 


Propagates easily from seed sown in the fall and stratified and is easily divided after flowering.

Ethnobotanical Uses

Sisyrinchium species have a long history of medicinal use. They're an Appalachian folk medicine for fever and chills, and the plants were used by Native American tribes to treat ailments including hayfever, diarrhea and stomach ache.

Garden Location

Patio Garden, Teaching Garden (see garden map)


Native Plant Trust 

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center 

Edible & Medicinal Wild Plants of Minnesota & Wisconsin


Plant Profile by Kathy Kling