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Collinsia parviflora

Collinsia parviflora

Collinsia parviflora (Blue-Eyed Mary)
Plantaginaceae (Plantain Family)

Foothills to sub-alpine. Openings, woodlands, shrublands.  Early spring.
Can Do Trail, McPhee Reservoir, May 9, 2008 and May 18, 2010
and Narraguinnep Natural Area, May 10, 2006.

This ubiquitous flower is so tiny that it is almost always overlooked -- unless it is found in a large colony.  Fortunately, it is common to find Collinsia growing in such colonies, very often made a bit more noticeable with its common friend, the tiny, white flowering Microsteris gracilis.  The photograph immediately above was taken from three feet above the ground; you can see how difficult it is to find these plants.

Collinsia parviflora
Collinsia parviflora (Blue-Eyed Mary)
Plantaginaceae (Plantain Family)

Foothills to sub-alpine. Openings, woodlands, shrublands.  Early spring.
Narraguinnep Natural Area, May 10, 2006.

Single flowers are difficult to spot; the plant itself is a bit easier because of the maroon on the stems and on the underside of the leaves, which frequently are angled upward enough to expose the red underside.

"Collinsia" was named for Zaccheus Collins, 1764-1831, eminent botanist from Philadelphia.  "Parviflora" is Latin for "small-flowered".  (More biographical information.)

Thomas Nuttall named this genus and David Douglas (of Douglas Fir fame) named the species in 1827.  Douglas shipped seeds of the plant from the Columbia River area to England where it was grown and described.

Collinsia parviflora

Collinsia parviflora

Collinsia parviflora

Collinsia parviflora (Blue-Eyed Mary)
Plantaginaceae (Plantain Family)

Foothills to sub-alpine. Openings, woodlands, shrublands.   Early spring.
Narraguinnep Natural Area, May 10, 2006 and Sanborn Park Road, Uncompahgre National Forest, May 31, 2013.

The side and front views of the flower are dramatically different.

Seeds are even smaller than the minute flowers.

Collinsia parviflora
Collinsia parviflora (Blue-Eyed Mary)
Plantaginaceae (Plantain Family)

Foothills to sub-alpine. Openings, woodlands, shrublands.  Early spring.
Prater Ridge Trail, Mesa Verde National Park, May 1, 2006.

One often finds Collinsia parviflora by looking for its red stems and leaves, not its more difficult to discern, minute blue and white flowers.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Collinsia parviflora