Last, and Actually Least

The smallest of our local bluets is Houstonia micrantha, the Southern bluet. That specific epithet means “tiny flower,” and boy, do they live up to the name!  The white blossoms are only a few millimeters across.  Houstonia rosea (the pink one) is shorter, but has larger flowers.

ho_micr-claude bailey

Image by Claude Bailey, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

These flower at the same time as the other bluets and are frequently found in mixed populations.  Here are H. micrantha and H. pusilla growing together:

image of Houstonia micrantha, image of -

Photo by J. K. Marlow.

It’s not unusual to find white-flowered individuals of H. pusilla in a population, but the size of the corolla and the stature of the plantslet you know they’re not H. micrantha.

Here is a pretty dirty sketch.  I didn’t like that one side-view flower, so I redrew it above.

whitebluetsketch

And the hand-drawn chart, with corrections and color notations.

whitebluets-handchart

Again, I’ve played with four different colorways for the foliage.  It doesn’t seem to matter to the eye.  They all say, “bluet.”  In the field, the vast majority of plants will have foliage that is simply chlorophyll-colored, and the brain sorts it out by texture.  (The best looking-out-the-car-window-at-60-mph plant identifier I ever knew was red-green colorblind.  He could tell EVERYTHING apart by texture alone, though Christmas decorations were sadly lost on him.)

Here’s the chart as output by the program.  It’s hard to see the stems.  A good printout (rather than a screen-cap) would have them as distinct black lines.

whitebluets-chart

I can’t  show  you a color-block chart on white because–go figure–the white squares disappear into the background.  But here is how the bluets might look stitched on taupe:

whitebluets-taupe

Or, if stitched life-size:

whitebluets-taupe

I think, on a background sufficiently distinct from white, I won’t need to outline the flowers or delineate the border between the tube and the flared part of the corolla.  (Botany lesson: the term for flowers shaped like this is salverform, with the narrow part  of the blossom termed the tube, and the spread-out part is called the limb.

And see–they do play well with the blue ones!

mixedbluets

I’m still not sure they look like something Gerda drew, but I’m pretty happy with them.  I’ll try to make sure the next plant I chart up is one Gerda also did, so that we can make a direct comparison.

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They Also Come in Pink

Don’t let the name fool you—not all bluets are blue.  Houstonia rosea comes in shades of pink, from rose to pale purply-pink.

hdw280299hs

The plants are even smaller than Houstonia pusilla, the bluets I charted first, but their flowers are proportionately bigger.  Their middles are yellow or greeny-yellow, rather than green.  (It’s H. caerulea, a bluet we don’t have, that has the sunny yellow middles.) Often, the flower shades to white or very pale pink between the outside of the corolla and the middle.

So at lunch today, I drew a few.

pink bluet sketch

Traced on graph paper, with colors noted:

pink bluet handchart

A color chart looks like this:

pinkbluets color chart-small

And if i stitched them more-or-less life-size on taupe:

pink bluets taupe-small

Squee! They are so cute.*  I may tinker with them a bit.  The fruit on the third one is clunky.  But mostly, I’m happy with them.  They are going to play nicely with the blue ones, too.

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*I have several times had the pleasure of going out in the field with the great Texas botanist, Marshall Johnston.  (He and Donovan Stewart Correll wrote the book on Texas plants—literally!  Their Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas continues to be useful, even though it has been out of print for forty-ish years.)  He knows all the plants, in all stages of growth.  Whenever I would exclaim about some tiny plant and call it cute, he would correct me.  “Plants are not ‘cute.’   They may be interesting or beautiful, but they are not  ‘cute.'”

Sorry, Marshall.  These little guys are cute.