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.


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


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.


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:


Or, if stitched life-size:


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!


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.

Time for Some Lemony Sunshine

East Texas has another spring wildflower that’s as tiny as bluets.  Often they grow together, and I’ve seen at least one herbarium sheet that was a mixed collection (oops!)  Rather than purple, bluish, pink, or white, however, Golden Hedge-hyssop (Gratiola flava) has flowers that are a bright, clear lemon yellow.

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(Image from





This little member of the Figwort family is tiny.  Written out, the common name is longer than the plants are tall!  Belly botany, for sure.   Texas’ other species of Gratiola are all much bigger.

Gratiola flava only grows in areas of loose sand and is endemic (found in a limited area) of East Texas and Louisiana.  I used to see them at Lick Creek Park all the time, when I was out there more often than I am now.  The paired leaves vary from oval to long-elliptic, and the tubular flowers are slightly curved. The petals are fused, with the corolla having four lobes—one of which is larger than the other three because it is actually two petals fused together.  The fruits are pointed-ovoid.

This is another plant I’ll have to draw twice or more life-sized to capture detail and then stitch over-one.

Here’s a pencil sketch.  Probably some of the leaves should be more oval and less linear, but I have flowers, a bud, and a couple of fruit.  (I know the leaves look like the ones I drew for the bluets, but both have sessile, paired, narrow, toothless leaves.  I promise not all of my plants will have such generic-skinny leaves!)


The pencil sketch, inked.  (I’m using a Sakura .01 Pigma pen, and my fancy paper here is a piece of scrap I pulled out of the recycle barrel at work.)


First approximation of a chart, with notations as to color.  I’ve started a color/symbol list for my charting program so that the same symbol will be the same color in any of my charts.  Fewer headaches that way!  I won’t have to rechart if I combine designs.


Again, the charting program doesn’t handle colors perfectly, particularly the yellowy greens.  I did the foliage in three different colorways.  I may adjust the colors of the flowers when I stitch, because there needs to be enough difference so that you can see the tube, the spread corolla, and the deeper-toned middle (deeper only because of shadow–the flowers really are just solid lemon–DMC 307).  The colors of floss I specified aren’t very different in the program.  I think they’ll be more distinct in actual floss.


And here is what the little plants would look like stitched on taupe.


Golden Hedge-hyssop isn’t familiar to many people, but I like to think that anyone who knows it would recognize it here.  Especially if it were stitched up life size:


Stitching will have to wait, because I want to do a group of different teeny-tinies all together and, depending on how I arrange them, I will probably need to shift the foliage colors around for balance.  Can’t have all the DMC 3346 ending up on one side of the work, now can we?