Blue-eyed Mary

Another early spring wildflower, the blue-eyed Mary, belongs to the snapdragon family. This distinctive genus, Collinsia, is easy to identify by the bicolored two-lipped flowers in shades of blue, lavender and white. The species is more difficult to determine, however, I believe this is a spinster’s blue-eyed Mary (C. sparsiflora). The upper lips are a light blue while the lower lips are deep blue. The stem is reddish, the leaves are linear, the pedicels and sepals are long and the flowers are in opposite pairs.

Growing in disturbed and cultivated areas or in open grassy fields, the individual flowers are small, but massed together they can be quite a striking sight. I know of no culinary or medicinal uses for blue-eyed Mary. They are simply very welcome and pretty in the early spring.

Another flower goes by the name of blue-eyed Mary. However, unlike the native blue-eyed Mary, Omphalodes verna was introduced from Europe and resembles a blue forget-me-not and is most often found in cultivated gardens.

I photographed these blue-eyed Marys along the Pacific Crest Trail near Hat Creek CA.

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