Sisyrinchium albidum Raf.
CC = 7
CW = 3
MOC = 14
Family - Iridaceae
Habit - Perennial forb with fibrous roots, lacking rhizomes.
Stems - Ascending to erect, to 40 cm, 1.0-3.5 mm wide, unbranched, most commonly narrowly winged.
Leaves - Basal or nearly so, few, linear, the leaf blades flat, 1.0-3.5 mm wide.
Inflorescence - 1-2 per aerial stem, both sessile at the stem tip and subtended by a single, sheathing leaflike bract 3.5-7.0 cm long. Spathelike bracts of each inflorescence 1.5-3.5 cm long, subequal or the inner bract somewhat shorter, green, sometimes purplish tinged, the inner bract sometimes somewhat membranous.
Flowers - Flowers with stalks 8-18 mm long. Perianth 5-12 mm long, spreading, white to pale violet, often drying purplish blue, usually with a well-developed yellow "eye" at the base, the sepals and petals similar and fused at the bases, oblanceolate with the tips abruptly narrowed into an attenuate tip, sometimes with the attenuation protruding from an apical notch. Styles with 3 linear lobes. Stamens with the filaments fused to the tips or nearly so.
Fruits - Capsules 2-6 mm long, globose. Seeds black, globose.
Flowering - May - June.
Habitat - Prairies, glades, openings of upland woods, pastures, railroads.
Origin - Native to U.S.
Lookalikes - Other species of Sisyrinchium.
Other info. - This species can be found in a handful of counties in eastern Missouri, and also scattered in the Midwest and Southeast states. The plant can be identified by the presence of an extra leaflike bract enclosing one or two inflorescences, which are sessile at the tip of a stem. As the photos above indicate, this feature is not always readily apparent at a glance, and careful examination is often necessary for a confident identification. The species name "albidum" suggests white flowers, but this is not a reliable character for species differentiation. Other species of Sisyrinchium in Missouri typically have blue flowers but can sometimes also produce white flowers, and S. albidum can have blue flowers.
Photographs taken off Hwy 106, Conecuh County, AL., 3-25-06 (DETenaglia); also at Tucker Prairie Natural Area, Callaway County, MO, 4-28-2016 (SRTurner).