There’s a tiny wildflower blooming in the Lowcountry right now, but if you don’t look carefully, you might miss it. The first time I was introduced to this plant as a bluet, I was confused. Aren’t bluets blue? Most of them are, but the ones that appear in the pine straw around here are more of a creamy white.
Their latin name, Houstonia procumbens, refers to their growth habit of staying low and creeping along the ground, procumbently. (leaning forward, lying down) They have four petals with pale yellow centers, and each flower grows on its own individual stalk. They bloom in early spring, and in some places they’ll bloom again in late fall. Their tiny blossoms are only about 3/8 inch across. Because they bloom when many other plants are still dormant, they can be a valuable wildlife plant. Sometimes you’ll find them blooming at the same time as Carolina Jessamine.
A Bluet by Any Other Name
While I was researching these, I came across a number of names for them that were much more interesting than Roundleaf Bluet: How about “Innocence?” Those sweet pale petals lend themselves to that. I’ll confess to liking the more magical “Fairy Footprints” name, and think this would make the perfect plant in a fairy garden. But I love the apt moniker “Sand Star” for their ability to thrive in sandy soils and the way the plant does, indeed, seem to light the forest edges, particularly when we are all a little desperate for a dose of springtime.
Research about potential uses of this plant for humans turned up a bunch of vague results for plants in this family~ possible treatments for a wide range of things from gout to lice, and none of them were specific to this species, so I wouldn’t use it as a cure for anything. I am happy to simply enjoy the cheerful little blooms, and appreciate these little stars in the sand.