In April, when there are so many spectacular dogwoods, azaleas, and other large plants blooming, why would anyone be looking for spring blossoms skimming the surface of the ground? No wonder the three tiny plants mentioned in the title go virtually unnoticed due to their small size and miniature blossoms. Recently, all three were seen blooming together by the thousands over large portions of the Wake Forest Reservoir Dam in Wake Forest, North Carolina.
Veronica arvensis – known as Field Speedwell or Corn Speedwell, is by far the most common of the three. It ranges throughout all the geographic areas of North Carolina. A member of the Plantain family (Plantaginaceae), it is one of North Carolina’s most numerous non-native winter annuals. The blue and white, four-petaled flowers are only a few millimeters across, less than an eighth of an inch.
Valerianella locusta – European Corn Salad, is an introduced annual, a member of the Honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae). It is much smaller and not as well known as its close relative Valerianella radiata , Corn Salad, which is a common and easily identified weed of open fields. V. locusta is found in the Central Piedmont, but absent from the Coastal Plain and spotty in the Mountains. In Europe it is often called Miniature Corn Salad. As the name implies, it is edible and used in salads. A group of blooming plants are pictured below.
The tiny individual flowers of V. locusta are a light blue in color (seen in the closer views below) in contrast to the white flowers of V. radiata.
Myosotis stricta – Small-flowered Forget-Me-Not, is an introduced annual from Eurasia, a member of the Borage family (Boraginaceae). Unlike the previous two plants, M. stricta is primarily a Northeastern species with a very limited distribution in North Carolina, where it is listed in only five counties. It is not listed as occurring in Wake County, where these photographs were taken.
Most of the plants have a stiff, upright plant form, which led to the species name “stricta”, meaning stiff.
As the plants begin to flower, some display a graceful, arching form at the top, similar to some other members of the Borage family.
The tiny blue flowers are only a few millimeters across and appear as a small blue dot when seen from five or six feet away. The plants are very pilose (hairy), as can be seen in the photo below.