Collinsia verna Nutt. - Blue-eyed Mary
Family - Scrophulariaceae
Stems - To +40cm tall, herbaceous, single or multiple from base, branching above or not, hollow, semi-succulent, from fibrous roots or with weak taproot, with two opposing longitudinal lines of pubescence below, scattered glandular pubescent above.
Leaves - Opposite. Lowest pairs(s) petiolate, (the petiole ciliate margined, to 1.5cm long), blade to +2cm long, 1.5cm broad, toothed, narrowly ovate. Upper leaves sessile, clasping, lanceolate, coarsely toothed, to +5cm long, +2cm broad, very sparsely pubescent (mostly on midrib) to glabrous.
Inflorescence - Terminal whorls or single axillary flowers. Whorls subtended by linear bracts to -1cm long. Pedicels to 1cm long in flower, much elongated in fruit to +3cm long, pubescent.
Flowers - Corolla bilabiate, tubular, to +1cm long. Upper lip two lobed, 6-7mm broad. Lobes lighter in color from whitish to lavender, deflexed at the apex. Lower lip three lobed with folded central lobe enclosing stamens and and style, blue-purple, more broad than upper lip. Stamens 4, borne at base of corolla tube, one pair from upper lip, one pair from lower lip (didynamous). Filaments white, glabrous, to 6mm long. Anthers of stamens from lower lip yellow, to 1mm long. Anthers of stamens from upper lip brownish, to +1mm long. Style filiform, to +5mm long. Ovary globose, 4-valved. Fruit a globose capsule to +6mm in diameter, +/-4 seeded. Calyx campanulate, persistent in fruit. Tube to 3mm long. Lobes 5, 4mm long in flower (5-6mm long in fruit), subequal, 2-3mm broad at base, mostly glabrous but sometimes very sparsely pubescent. Margins serrulate.
Flowering - April - June.
Habitat - Moist low woods, streambanks.
Origin - Native to U.S.
Other info. - I like most of the plants from this family and Collinsia is no exception. This common little plant has brilliant flowers and a striking display for a plant its size. I don't know if it is cultivated regularly but it should do well for people with shaded moist locations in their yards (areas which are typically tough to plant). Remember - Don't collect the plant, just some of the seeds.
Photographs taken at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area, 4-11-04, and off the Katy Trail, Callaway County, MO., 4-22-04.