Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This native plant is a winter annual about ½–1½' tall and unbranched. The central stem is pubescent or hairless. The opposite leaves are up to 2" long and ¾" across; they may be pubescent or hairless. The lower leaves are oval or orbicular with a few blunt teeth along their margins; they are smaller than the other leaves and have slender petioles. The middle leaves are the largest and most conspicuous; they are oval or broadly lanceolate, often with a few blunt teeth along their margins, and they clasp the stem. The uppermost leaves are usually lanceolate and smooth along their margins; they are often sessile. The central stem terminates in a whorl of 4-6 flowers. Sometimes individual flowers develop from the axils of the upper leaves as well; these axillary flowers have slender pedicels. Each flower is up to ¾" across, consisting of a green calyx and a blue/white corolla. The calyx has 5 slender teeth; it is often pubescent. The short tubular corolla is divided into upper and lower lips. The upper lip is cleft into 2 lobes that are white, while the lower lip is cleft into 3 lobes. The 2 outer lobes of the lower lip are bright blue, while the middle lobe of the lower lip is folded into a keel and hidden from view. This middle lobe contains the stamens and style of the flower. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late spring and lasts about 3 weeks. Each flower is replaced by a globoid capsule that contains a few large seeds. The root system consists of a slender taproot. This plant spreads by reseeding itself; it often forms colonies of variable size.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Comments

The distinctive bicolored flowers are very beautiful and they make Blue-Eyed Mary easy to identify. This woodland wildflower is unusual in having flowers with a true blue color. The only other species in the genus that has been observed in Illinois is Collinsia violacea (Violet Collinsia). This latter plant has violet flowers and lanceolate leaves. It prefers sunnier habitats and is quite rare within the state.
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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Absent

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Range and Habitat in Illinois

Blue-Eyed Mary occurs occasionally in NE and east central Illinois, but it tends to be less common elsewhere (see Distribution Map). At some high quality sites around the state, it is locally abundant. Habitats include moist to mesic deciduous woodlands, wooded slopes of river valleys, and along woodland paths. Sometimes Blue-Eyed Mary occurs in drier woodlands, in which case the individual plants will be smaller in size. Even though it tolerates minor levels of disturbance, this plant is an indicator species of high quality woodlands.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Collinsia verna Nutt.:
China (Asia)
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Blue-Eyed Mary occurs occasionally in NE and east central Illinois, but it tends to be less common elsewhere (see Distribution Map). At some high quality sites around the state, it is locally abundant. Habitats include moist to mesic deciduous woodlands, wooded slopes of river valleys, and along woodland paths. Sometimes Blue-Eyed Mary occurs in drier woodlands, in which case the individual plants will be smaller in size. Even though it tolerates minor levels of disturbance, this plant is an indicator species of high quality woodlands.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of Blue-Eyed Mary in Illinois

Collinsia verna (Blue-Eyed Mary)
(Bees suck nectar or collect pollen, other insects suck nectar; butterflies & skippers are non-pollinating; one observation is from Krombein et al. as indicated below, otherwise observations are from Robertson)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn cp fq; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus auricomus sn, Bombus bimaculatus sn, Bombus fraternus sn, Bombus griseocallis sn, Bombus impatiens sn, Bombus pensylvanica sn; Anthophoridae (Anthophorini): Anthophora ursina sn; Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina calcarata sn, Ceratina dupla dupla sn fq; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Synhalonia belfragii sn fq, Synhalonia speciosa sn; Anthophoridae (Nomadini): Nomada sayi sn; Megachilidae (Osmiini): Osmia atriventris sn cp fq, Osmia collinsiae sn cp fq, Osmia conjuncta sn cp fq, Osmia lignaria lignaria sn cp fq, Osmia pumila sn cp fq

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Halictus rubicunda cp; Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena erigeniae sn (Kr)

Flies
Empididae: Empis nuda sn, Empis otiosa sn; Bombyliidae: Bombylius major sn

Butterflies
Pieridae: Colias philodice sn np

Skippers
Hesperiidae: Erynnis baptisiae sn np, Erynnis brizo sn np, Erynnis icelus sn np

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Faunal Associations

The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract bumblebees and other long-tongued bees. Occasionally, butterflies and skippers visit the flowers, but they are less effective at cross-pollination. The caterpillars of the butterfly Celastrina argiolus (Spring/Summer Azure) feed on the flower buds and seed capsules of Blue-Eyed Mary. Little else appears to be known about floral-faunal relationships for this species.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NX - Presumed Extirpated

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is dappled sunlight to light shade, moist to mesic conditions, and a rich loamy soil. The size of individual plants is strongly influenced by moisture conditions and the fertility of the soil. The seeds should be planted during the summer so that they will germinate during the fall.
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Wikipedia

Collinsia verna

Collinsia verna is an annual wildflower common in eastern North America, where it is known as blue-eyed Mary. The flowers are actually bicolored white and blue. It is a plant of valley bottoms and moist bottom slopes, in areas of moderate light; it is not a shade lover.


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