Minute Miracles

The continuing discoveries of a 21st century artist and naturalist …

I’ve often marveled at small things, minute details, that make up a larger view.  For me this is most often the case when I look at an impressionist painting.  I am always taken with the choice of colors to create light and shadow; the swift strokes that convey movement and mood.   Claude Monet is perhaps my favorite of the impressionist artists.

But another of my ‘favorites’, Georgia O’Keeffe looked closely at the minute but created images thousands of times as large as the observed object.  She is quoted as saying the following, which I believe relates well to the topic of this piece:

Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time – like to have a friend takes time. – Georgia O’Keeffe

This week I’ll be presenting several photographs of ‘tiny treats’ – those miniature flowers that we have to take time to see.

Bluets are miniature flowers easily missed if not found in patches.  They are often 1/2″ or less in size.  Compare their size to the blades of grass around them to get a feel for just how tiny these lovely flowers are.

Family:  Rubiaceae; Genus:  Houstonia; Species:  caerulea

Bluet Patch

Bluet Patch













The flowers on this creeping plant reminiscent of violets except they are more tubular in shape. You can, again compare the flower size to the grass blades around it.  Ground Ivy, (a.k.a. creeping charlie), toxic to horses and humans if taken orally in either leaf or tea form, causes throat swelling and labored breathing that, at least as studied in humans, can last up to 24 hours.   However, as is true with so many wildflowers it may have medical benefits.

Two components in the plant were found to protect mice from ulcers.  In addition, the leaves contain urosolic acid has anticancer properties against lymphocytic leukemia and human lung carcinoma.

Ground Ivy

Ground Ivy




Indian Cucumber is another of these tiny and often overlooked wildflowers.  The root is said to taste like cucumbers, hence part of the name.  American Indians often chewed the root and spit it on a hook to make fish bite.

Family:  Liliaceae; Genus:  Medeoloa;  Species:  virginiana

Criss Cross Indian Cucumber Root Blooms

Criss Cross Indian Cucumber Root Blooms

Indian Cucumber Root

Indian Cucumber Root

Indian Cucumber Root - Tree Skirt

Indian Cucumber Root – Tree Skirt

Indian Cucumber Root Patch

Indian Cucumber Root Patch
















For me, one of the ‘sweetest’ little wildflowers I’ve discovered is called ‘Blue-Eyed Grass’.  One of these photos gives you a really good idea of how easy it would be to miss this delight.

Family: Iridaceae; Genus:  Sisyrinchium; Species:  angustifolium

Pointed Blue Eyed Grass Watermarked

Blue Eyed Grass - Little Whitetop June 2013 m Watermarked













The next miniature is identified by a downy stem and the tongue-like arch of the bottom petal (lip).  The combination of these features give the Hairy Beardtongue its common name.  The flowers are only about an inch long even though plant can be as tall as three feet.

Family:  Scrophulariaceae; Genus: Penstemon;  Species:  hirsulus


Hairy Beardtounge

Hairy Beardtongue

Hairy Beardtounge Close View

Hairy Beardtongue Close View
















I would never have noticed this lovely but inconspicuous flower had I not been sitting next to the bridge where it was growing.  The Common Speedwell (a.k.a Gypsyweed) has delicate lavender petals on plant that only grows to 7 inches in height.

Family:  Plantaginaceae; Genus: Veronica; Species:  officininalis

Common Speedwell - Gypsyweed's Tiny Blooms

Common Speedwell – Gypsyweed’s Tiny Blooms

Common Speedwell - Gypsyweed Close Up

Common Speedwell – Gypsyweed Close Up









Common Speedwell (Gypsyweed)

Common Speedwell (Gypsyweed)










Although miniature in size these little flowers are grand in design.

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