Page authors: Ben Legler, David Giblin
Olsynium douglasii
purple-eyed grass, grass-widow

Distribution: Widely distributed throughout Washington, but more common east of the Cascades crest; British Columbia to California, east to Idaho, Nevada, and Utah.

Habitat: Coastal bluffs, prairies, open rocky areas, oak and ponderosa pine woodlands, sagebrush and juniper desert, where moist in early spring.

Flowers: March-June

Origin: Native

Conservation Status: Not of concern


Showy grass-like perennial with clumped stems to 30 cm tall; stems flattened.


Narrow (to 3 mm wide), flattened, sheathing at base, lower leaves bract-like.


Showy, 1-few in an umbel subtended by two erect spathe-like leaves; tepals 6, to 2 cm long, reddish-purple to pink (rarely white) with a satiny sheen; stamens 3, filaments fused and slightly enlarged at base; styles 3; ovary wholly inferior. Flowering March to June.


3-celled capsules to 1 cm long.

Identification Notes:

This species is distinguished by its reddish-purple or pink flowers and filaments connate only on the lower 1/3-1/2 of their length (vs. yellow or blue flowers and filaments connate nearly to their tip in our other species).


One of our earliest blooming springtime wildflowers, and sure to catch your eye with its large cheerful blooms.

Accepted Name:
Olsynium douglasii (A. Dietr.) E.P. Bicknell
Publication: Bull. Torrey Bot. Club. 27: 237. 1900.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Sisyrinchium douglasii A. Dietr. [HC]
var. douglasii – purple-eyed grass, grass-widow    Occurring west of the Cascades crest, up the Columbia River Gorge, and along the east base of the Cascades from Chelan County south in Washington; Vancouver Island to California.
var. inflatum – purple-eyed grass, grass-widow    Occurring east of the Cascades crest in Washington; From south-central British Columbia to Nevada, from the east base of the Cascades to Idaho and northwestern Utah.
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Olsynium douglasii in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Olsynium douglasii checklist entry.

E-Flora BC: Olsynium douglasii atlas page.

CalPhotos: Olsynium douglasii photos.

USDA Plants: Olsynium douglasii information.

78 photographs:
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