Roan Mountain Bluet is such a charming delicate flower, with it’s rare color and petite size it really is a lovely little wildflower. This native annual flower appears in the early spring and really blooms brilliantly from May through September. Houstonia purpurea is its scientific name, “purpurea” describing it’s purple color (Tiny Bluet (Houstonia pusilla) describes “pusilla” or “insignificant”). While the Roan Mountain Bluet may be small in size, its brilliant blue color is a sight not to be missed. The Roan Mountain Bluets are known for their purple-reddish color and small oval leaves. Bluets are ground cover or mat species and the Roan Mountain Bluet is found in it’s unique high elevation habitat (4,600-6,200ft) on rocky exposures in the northern counties of western NC.
Houstonia purpurea (formerly Hedyotis purpurea) is a species of flowering plant in the coffee family known by the common names Venus’ pride, woodland bluet, and purple bluet. It is native to the eastern United States from eastern Texas and Oklahoma east to Florida and Pennsylvania, with scattered populations in Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan, New York State and New England.
Roan Mountain bluet is a rare endemic found on a few mountains in the Southern Appalachians. A member of the coffee family (Rubiaceae), Roan Mountain bluet produces heterostylus flowers (two different length styles). There are three varieties of this species. The rarest, var. montana (Roan Mountain bluet) is a federally listed endangered species of the United States. It occurs only in the southern Appalachians along the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. It is named for Roan Mountain, one of a very few mountain peaks where it grows.
Habitat destruction is the most immediate and prevalent threat to nearly all extant populations of Roan Mountain bluet. The greatest threats occur in commercial, residential and recreational development at privately owned sites. Hikers, rock climbers, and other sightseers create erosion and compaction of soil at cliff and trail side locations on national forest lands, often trampling populations and habitat. Blowdown of weakened and killed trees due to air pollution and infestation of wooly aphid allows soil erosion and loss of habitat.
If you do spot one please note were it is (your phones GPS can really come in handy for this) and tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as soon as you can.
Find out more where I did. . .