Have you seen your first spring wildflowers yet? I have, and I couldn’t be happier! Douglas’ grasswidows start blooming as early as late February through early March in the Klamath-Siskiyou.
One of the earliest wildflowers to bloom in the spring, Douglas’ grasswidow (Olsynium douglasii var. douglasii), also referred to as purple-eyed grass, is a harbinger of warmer, sunnier days ahead. This cheerful grass-like plant will brighten your day as it announces the arrival of the coming wildflower-filled spring.
Early season pollinators appreciate the early blooms of grasswidows and it is not uncommon to see native bees foraging on the flowers.
Douglas’ grasswidow is in the Iridaceae (Iris) family, in the genus Olsynium, with other species in the same genus being mainly from South America. Many folks may have gotten to know this lovely species when it was classified under the closely related genus, Sisyrinchium — hence one of its common names: purple-eyed grass.
The origin of the common name, grasswidow, has not been confirmed despite many theories.
These early blooming flowers inhabit rocky, vernally-wet places that turn very dry in the summer. You will see it growing on dry, rocky bluffs, in meadows, and in open oak woodlands from low to mid elevations.