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The Mighty Mighty Bluet

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

There is great power in a tiny flower. The common bluet, Houstonia caerulea, triumphs over drought, frost, neglect and active persecution. It's a member of the Rubiaceae, a very cool family that includes partridgeberry (Mitchella repens), quinine (Cinchona), gardenia (!) and coffee (!!) Oh my!
How all those plants fit in one family beats me--tiny wildflowers and economically important shrubs that dictate land use all over Latin America.

There is a barren hillside on Rte. 821 not far from our house that blooms in early spring with blue. Misty blue, running down like water.

It's barren because the man who lives in the house above it takes a weedwhacker to the wildflowers that try to grow there. He has weedwhacked the Trillium grandiflorum and Solomon's seal into extinction. I see him, balancing on the rocks, whacking away, and I want so badly to stop and talk to him, but I don't. I think it wouldn't go so well.  Besides, I find it interesting that someone would object to bluets. I'd rather watch than intervene, because the bluets are winning.

He prefers daffodils and variegated hostas, his close-mown lawn, to bluets. These rocky steep dry  ledges are no doubt his despair. He can't get the grass to take on them, no matter how he cuts and whacks.

But the bluets don't mind. They don't listen to him and his machines. They go on growing there anyway. 
You see, by eliminating everything else that once grew there, he's creating a monoculture of bluets. And they like that just fine.

And though I mourn the trillium, I like it, too. It's a little victory. He can't kill the bluets. They're too little to bother with. They bend their slender necks and let him have at it. They sing of life and springtime.

Take that! And thank you for your help, Sir!



Oh, they are one of my most favorite flowers. I always dreamed of living where they grow and now I do. They always cheer me when I see them. This story will make me even happier the next time I spy them in the yard. Thank you for this little gift of blue!

I wanna be a bluet!

Posted by Diane Bystrom May 15, 2012 at 9:18 AM

I love those little flowers. We have a patch of them growing right in the middle of our lawn, along with dandelions, and when the sun shines on them, there really isn't a cheerier sight.

Just four simple petals, blue sky surrounding a bright yellow sun. Rock on, Bluets.

Great story---bluet against man. My mother named her car Bluet, after the flower---a blue VW Beetle in the 70s:-)

I love a great success story!

Ah, such fools these mortals be.

Posted by Anonymous May 17, 2012 at 4:13 PM

I would to love to plant these flowers, but wonder if I would only be feeding the deer! What do you think?
The flowers are absolutely breathtaking.
I just bought your recent book, The Bluebird Effect and I was glad I didn't over feed our own bluebirds! This was the first time they nested in the birdhouse my son installed. We were so excited to watch the feeding ceremony, and hope a few more bluebirds will nest there again.
In closing, your book was absolutely beautiful; you have accomplished much in your life.

Posted by Anonymous May 20, 2012 at 1:50 PM
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