Alpine Garden Society

Ulster Group

                      Plant of the Month - March 2014
                                Sisyrinchium (Olsynium) douglasii - by Anne McCaughan
   Sisyrinchium douglasii grows in a sheltered spot in my garden, it grows 20cm high and it does not seed around.
I grew it in a pot for the first year and was able to split it in two when I planted it out. It is in very gritty soil, to counteract my heavy clay and it is in quite a damp spot. It gets plenty of light at the moment, but it would probably be considered semi shade once the trees leaf up. The first bud appeared two weeks ago. The bud is darker than the open flower, which lasts about ten days. The leaves grow nice and upright and it disappears below ground at some point in the summer, didn't notice exactly when.




Sisyrinchium douglasii - now  renamed Olsynium douglasii - is a bulbous plant native to western North America, where it is a meadow plant. Its common names are Grasswidows or Widowgrass, Purple-eyed grass and satinflower.

Sisyrinchium douglasii var. douglasii was discovered near Celilo Falls on the Columbia River in 1826 by David Douglas, and is named for him.


S. douglasii and most of the South American species have been  moved to become Olsynium (though they are still described under Sisyrinchium in the AGS Encyclopaedia (1994)). The difference is mainly in Olsynium having rush-like rather than grassy leaves, and some differences in the flower.