(Collinsia verna) Figwort family

Flowers - On slender, weak stalks; whorled in axils of upper

leaves. Blue on lower lip of corolla, its middle lobe folded

lengthwise to enclose 4 adhering stamens and pistil; upper lip

white, with scalloped margins; corolla from 1/2 to 3/4 in. long,

its throat about equaling the deeply 5-cleft calyx. Stem: Hoary,

slender, simple or branched, from 6 in. to 2 ft. high. Leaves:

Thin, opposite; upper and more acute ones clasping the stem;

lower, ovate ones on short petioles. Fruit: A round capsule to

which the enlarged calyx adheres.

Preferred Habitat - Moist meadows, woods, and thickets. Flowering

Season - April-June.

Distribution - Western New York and Pennsylvania to Wisconsin,

Kentucky, and Indian Territory.

Next of kin to the great Paulonia tree, whose deliciously sweet,

vanilla-scented, trumpet-shaped violet flowers are happily fast

becoming as common here as in their native Japan, what has this

fragile, odorless blossom of the meadows in common with it?

Apparently nothing; but superficial appearances count for little

or nothing among scientists, to whom the structure of floral

organs is of prime importance; and analysis instantly shows the

close relationship between these dissimilar-looking cousins. Even

without analysis one can readily see that the monkey flower is

not far removed.

Because few writers have arisen as yet in the newly settled

regions of the middle West and Southwest, where blue-eyed Mary

dyes acres of meadow land with her heavenly color, her praises

are little sung in the books, but are loudly buzzed by myriads of

bees that are her most devoted lovers. "I regard the flower as

especially adapted to the early flying bees with abdominal

collecting brushes for pollen - i.e., species of Osmia - and

these bees," says Professor Robertson of Illinois, "although not

the exclusive visitors, are far more abundant and important than

all the other visitors together." For them are the brownish marks

on the palate provided as pathfinders. At the pressure of their

strong heads the palate yields to give them entrance, and at

their removal it springs back to protect the pollen against the

inroads of flies, mining bees, and beetles. As the longer stamens

shed their pollen before the shorter ones mature theirs, bees

must visit the flower several times to collect it all.

BLUE WAXWEED CLAMMY CUPHEA TARWEED BLUETHISTLE facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail