Collinsia parviflora

I thought it might be suitable to lead with a flower and some colour this week, to offset the drab, grey weather. This photograph is from an early May trip to Vancouver Island with the Native Plant Society of British Columbia.

Unfortunately, my photograph doesn’t show the character that helps to differentiate the two species of Collinsia native to British Columbia, Collinsia parviflora and Collinsia grandiflora, so I’ve made an educated guess. The corolla tube of Collinsia grandiflora has a near 90 degree bend from the calyx (see the base of the flowers in this photograph), while in Collinsia parviflora, the angle is nearer 45 degrees (as displayed in this photograph). Given that the angle of the corolla tube is hidden in my photograph with a face-on view of the flower, I suspect this individual has the 45 degrees angle — hence the educated guess.

Maiden blue-eyed mary or small-flowered blue-eyed mary has a range spanning much of western North America and parts of northeastern North America. In areas I’ve seen it (BC, Washington, Oregon, California), I’ve associated it with spring-time moist soils, growing in sunny to shady conditions. This small (3-40cm (1-16in.) annual species can be easily overlooked, as the flowers (though they appear large in the photograph) are typically 0.5-1cm long — hence the specific epithet parviflora (small-flowered). However, the species is quite variable, and finding flowers nearly 2cm (under 1in.) long isn’t impossible when plants are larger and growing in ideal conditions.

As noted by the people behind swcoloradowildflowers.com, the genus Collinsia is named after Zaccheus Collins (1764-1831), a Philadelphia botanist and merchant.

Calphotos has additional photographs of Collinsia parviflora.

Collinsia parviflora

8 responses to “Collinsia parviflora”

  1. Moralea Milne

    Fabulous photo, this is a flower that is very difficult to photograph well.

  2. quin

    yes, I like the close-up also, many times we’re just taken away by the thousands of these little jewels blooming at once over some meadow or glade, an inches-high ‘mist’ of blue across that moistened soil Daniel mentions during their season

  3. elizabeth a airhart

    Single eyed to child and sunbeam
    In her little grass- green gown
    prim and sweet and fair as ever
    Blue-eyed Mary’s come to town
    Yes you may, child go to see her,
    You can stay and play an hour
    But be sweet and good and gentle
    Blue eyed mary is a flower
    mary e wilkens freeman
    louis and clark noted blue eyes april 17 1806 the dalles oregon
    thank you daniel for this little darling

  4. Barbara Lamb

    Wonderful composition.
    And may I take this opportunity to mention how much I enjoy elizabeth’s posts?

  5. Emma

    This is a lovely flower and fine photograph. I enjoy elizabeth’s posts, too.

  6. Alex Jablanczy

    Which suggests that Flores man should not be called hobbit but Homo parvicorpus.

  7. Chris Sears

    Hi Daniel,
    See the following paper:
    Tunebridge N, Sears CJ, and Elizibeth E. 2011. Variation in floral morphology and ploidy among populations of Collinsia parviflora and Collinsia grandiflora. Botany 89(1): 19–33.
    This paper came out of Nicole Tunebridge’s MSc. thesis work. We demonstrate that Collinsia parviflora, and Collinsia grandiflora comprise a polyploid complex. Flower size, and ploidy level have surprisingly little correlation. Problems with identifying these species is the result of current taxonomic circumscriptions not reflecting biological realities. I hope the Elizibeth’s research group at Simon Fraser University will continue their top notch work on this interesting group, and that taxonomic changes will be made. For now, C. parviflora is as good a name as any to attach to your wonderful photo.

  8. Trudi

    Here is a good picture of Collinsia parviflora

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