Blue-Eyed Grass – Sisyrinchium Montanum: Edible & Medicinal Uses of the Tiny Iris of Wild Plants

Table of Contents

Strict blue-eyed grass is in the iris family, and isn’t truly a grass. This edible and medicinal wildflower is widespread and around here may be one of the first you see dotting your lawn when you haven’t mowed.

Sisyrinchium montanum is Halliburton’s only blue-eyed grass, but the whole species is similar. If you’ve ever let your lawn grow around here, or had the grass not need mowed due to a drought, you may have noticed tiny grass like plants with tiny irises atop them. Pretty little wildflowers! They are fairly common here, but endangered in some areas of North America.

Edible Uses of Blue-Eyed Grass

If you’re not pregnant, the leaves can be sparingly cooked or mixed with other greens. But I think it’s the least appetizing plant I’ve covered so far.

Medicinal Uses of Blue-Eyed Grass

Blue-eyed grass is primarily said to support these body systems:

  • Digestive
  • Reproductive

Medicinal tags include Astringent. See Medicinal tag key for more information.

Common usage includes as an astringent for tummy troubles. The leaf tea has been used traditionally for birth control, but in a world with many birth control options that are 99%+ effective, and considering how much of this plant a woman would need for sustained long term use, IMO it’s just a side note.

Alternative Uses of Little Blue-eyed Grasses

They’re frequented by halictid bees and other pollinators.

Growing Sisyrinchium Montanum

If you stop mowing, blue eyed “grass” is likely to flower in your lawn and spread. It can be sown or bought as well. It’s best suited for a grassy area, as other forbs can crowd it out. When it comes to landscaping, native grasses and wildflowers that thrive with them are under considered at this time. When most of us think of helping the pollinators and other wildlife, we’re thinking about showy flowers and maybe shrubs and trees. Native grasses and sedges are just as important as showier plants (and some of them are ornate as well).

Because I don’t know my grasses very well yet, I asked Ontario Native Plant Gardening what they like to plant with sisyrinchium spp., specifically asking about low growing grasses. Another grass like plant (sedge) was the first recommendation. Golden sedge (carex aurea) was recommended to pair with blue-eyed. Grasses little bluestem (schizachyrium scoparium) and sideoats grama (bouteloua curtipendula) came highly recommended as well. Little bluestem hosts some skipper butterfly species, and that is just one of many examples of grasses as host plants.

Grasses and sedges provide seed over winter and early spring for many birds too. And if you plant patches of taller grasses too, you should see more fireflies. Who doesn’t like fireflies? If you need more convincing, see this article. Planting sedges and grasses and wildflowers, including less heard of wildflowers like blue-eyed grass, is an idea that’ll hopefully catch on. Tending a meadow is a wonderful way to help our pollinators. As always, I hope people start ditching their mown lawns and chemicals – but I don’t need to say ditch the grass. On the contrary.

OSG seeds and Wildflower Farms are a couple of the local nurseries that sell native grass seed. Most sedges like damp conditions, but there are a few common native sedges that grow around Haliburton and that should work in average moisture, if you can find the seed. They include: fibrous-root sedge (carex communis), Houghton’s sedge (carex houghtoniana), and necklace spike sedge (carex ormostachya). The grass list is much longer!


Do not consume if pregnant or trying to conceive.

May be somewhat toxic.

And the Usual Cautions:

1) Most medicinal herbs, if edible, are meant to be eaten in moderation, even sparingly. Some require extra preparation. Tannins are toxic if consumed in excess.

2) People can be allergic or sensitive to nearly any plant; try new herbs one at a time at your own risk. For instance, saponins commonly cause stomach upset.

3) For medicinal use, I must recommend receiving a diagnosis and working with a reputed health care provider. I generally do not post specific treatments and dosages because I think that is best between you and your health care provider, and ideally monitored.

4) Anyone pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs should talk to a health care professional before adding new food items to their diet.

5) Many plants have look-a-likes, and sometimes they are poisonous.

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Edible and Medicinal Plants of Canada

The Earthwise Herbal, Volume II: A Complete Guide to New World Medicinal Plants

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