Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Tiny Bluet - Houstonia pusilla   Schoepf
Members of Rubiaceae:
Members of Houstonia with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Rubiales » Family Rubiaceae
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AuthorSchoepf
DistributionFormerly mostly in the Piedmont and western Coastal Plain, but is rapidly spreading (often in lawns) across most of the state now -- with numerous photographic records. Probably still "absent" in a few coastal counties and a few mountain counties.

This is a Southern species, ranging from MD and KS, south to western FL and central TX.
AbundanceCommon and increasing in the central and eastern Piedmont and western Coastal Plain. Less common in the central Coastal Plain and in the far eastern counties, but clearly spreading coastward. Uncommon in the Mountains and western Piedmont, but increasing there. The NCNHP's State Rank of S4 is clearly incorrect, as it is certainly an S5 species in the state.
HabitatThis species, as with H. caerulea, grows in dry clay or sandy soil without much competition. It is found in roadsides, fields, lawns, margins of trails, edges of woods, and other places with low vegetation.
PhenologyBlooms in March and April, and fruits soon after flowering.
IdentificationThis is a familiar species except for people in the eastern and mountain parts of the state, quite easily found in spring in compacted, dry soil. It is extremely slender, reaching only about 3 inches tall on average, with some spatulate basal leaves only about 1/2-inch long. There are only one or two pairs of tiny, opposite stem leaves. The single flower atop the stem or any branches has 4 spreading petals, but the flower is only about 1/4-inch across, being darker lavender blue, with a dark red eye. H. caerulea is similar but slightly taller and has a slightly larger flower that is light blue with a yellow eye. As with that species, normally a few dozen plants can grow in a small patch of ground.
Taxonomic CommentsSome references use the genus name of Hedyotis, but most use Houstonia.

Other Common Name(s)Small Bluet(s)
State RankS4 [S5]
Global RankG5
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