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Yellow-eyed Grass

Sisyrinchium californicum

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Iridaceae (Iris)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
50 centimetres tall
Bogs, gardens, grassland, marshes, meadows, scrub, seaside, waterside.

Yellow, 6 petals
Dark-veined, bright yellow, star-shaped flowers, 12 to 18mm in diameter. Flowers often have brown veins. Every day the flowers close at midday.
A dark-coloured seed capsule.
A semi-evergreen perennial with narrow, flat, greyish-green, grass-like leaves. The stems are winged. Clump-forming.
Other Names:
California Blue-eyed Grass, Golden Blue-eyed Grass, Golden-eyed Grass, Yellow Californian Satin Flower.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Sisyrinchium californicum, commonly known as California blue-eyed grass, is a species of flowering plant in the iris family (Iridaceae). It is native to California and Oregon in the United States, and can be found in chaparral, grassland, and coastal sage scrub habitats. It is a small perennial herb that typically grows to 20-50 cm tall. The leaves are basal, linear and about 10-30 cm long, and arise from a corm. The flowers are typically blue to purple and have six petals. The flowers are produced in small clusters and appear in the spring and summer. The plant is drought tolerant, and can be propagated by seed or by dividing the corms. Sisyrinchium californicum is important for wildlife, especially for bees and butterflies.


Yellow-eyed Grass, scientifically known as Sisyrinchium californicum, is a beautiful plant that belongs to the Iris family. It is native to North America and is found along the western coast, from Alaska to Baja California. The plant is commonly referred to as Golden-eyed Grass, California blue-eyed grass, and Yellow star grass.

Yellow-eyed Grass has a unique appearance that makes it stand out from other plants. It is a small perennial herb that grows up to 50 cm tall, with slender leaves that are 10-30 cm long and 2-6 mm wide. The leaves are dark green in color and have a grass-like appearance. The plant produces bright yellow flowers that are 2-3 cm in diameter and have six petals.

The flowers of Yellow-eyed Grass bloom from April to June and are usually found in clusters at the tips of the stems. The petals of the flowers are yellow with a central purple or brown marking. The flowers of Yellow-eyed Grass are hermaphroditic, meaning that they have both male and female reproductive structures. They are also insect-pollinated and attract bees, butterflies, and other insects.

Yellow-eyed Grass grows in a wide range of habitats, from rocky slopes and meadows to wetlands and coastal areas. It prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soils. It is a tough plant that can withstand drought, but it also tolerates occasional flooding.

Yellow-eyed Grass has several medicinal properties and has been used by indigenous people for centuries. It contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. It has also been used to treat eye infections and as a remedy for fever and colds.

Yellow-eyed Grass is a beautiful plant that adds color and texture to any garden. It is easy to grow and maintain, making it an ideal choice for gardeners who want to add a touch of nature to their landscape. It is also an important plant for pollinators, providing a valuable source of nectar and pollen for bees and butterflies.

Yellow-eyed Grass, Sisyrinchium californicum, is not only a beautiful plant but also an important one for the ecosystem. It provides food and habitat for many wildlife species, including birds, small mammals, and insects. The plant's foliage provides shelter for small animals, while the flowers provide nectar and pollen for bees and butterflies.

In addition to its ecological importance, Yellow-eyed Grass also has cultural significance. Native American tribes used the plant for various purposes, such as making baskets, dyeing materials, and as a food source. The bulbs of the plant were roasted and eaten, and the stems and leaves were used to make fiber for clothing and baskets.

Yellow-eyed Grass is also a popular ornamental plant, especially in gardens that focus on native plants. It is a low-maintenance plant that requires little care once established. It is also drought-tolerant, making it an ideal choice for gardeners who live in arid regions.

If you are interested in growing Yellow-eyed Grass in your garden, there are a few things to keep in mind. The plant prefers well-drained soil, so make sure to plant it in an area with good drainage. It also prefers full sun to partial shade, so choose a spot that receives at least six hours of sunlight per day. Yellow-eyed Grass can be propagated by dividing the clumps in the fall or early spring.

One interesting fact about Yellow-eyed Grass is that it is not actually a type of grass, despite its common name. It belongs to the Iris family, and its leaves are more similar to those of grasses than to typical iris leaves. Another interesting fact is that the plant has a symbiotic relationship with a soil fungus called mycorrhiza. This fungus helps the plant absorb nutrients from the soil and can help increase the plant's tolerance to environmental stresses.

Yellow-eyed Grass has also been the subject of research due to its potential as a bioindicator of soil contamination. Studies have shown that the plant can accumulate heavy metals in its tissues, making it useful in monitoring soil pollution. This information could be helpful in identifying contaminated areas and developing strategies to remediate the soil.

Finally, Yellow-eyed Grass has been used in various traditional medicine practices, including by the Chumash tribe of California. The Chumash used the plant to treat headaches, fever, and digestive issues. They also used it externally to treat skin conditions such as rashes and wounds.

In conclusion, Yellow-eyed Grass is a unique and fascinating plant with many benefits and uses. Its ecological importance, cultural significance, and potential as a bioindicator make it a valuable plant to study and preserve. Whether you are interested in gardening or in the natural world, Yellow-eyed Grass is definitely a plant worth learning more about.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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