I took a trip to New Paltz, New York, with some friends. It is a cute little town surrounded by the Shawangunk Ridge, the last bit of the Appalachian Mountains. I obviously had to take some hikes and look for new plants while I was there! It had been unseasonably cold in NY so most of the plants were a little slow to grow. We were walking toward the river through large slabs of rocks when I finally found something. On a little grassy mound in the middle of a big boulder was a nice population of azure bluets (Houstonia caerulea)! Bluets are in the Rubiaceae family. This mostly tropical family includes important plants like coffee and Cinchona officinalis (produces quinine), as well as ornamentals, like gardenia.
These azure bluets were only 2 inches tall but had 1/4 inch tall flowers (Houstonia caerulea, Rubiaceae)
The mound of azure bluets! (Houstonia caerulea, Rubiaceae)
Flowers in the Rubiaceae family have radial symmetric (actinomorphic) petals fused in a tube (sympetalous), as show with this bluet flower (Houstonia caerulea, Rubiaceae).
We later found some azure bluets in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. Notice the capsule fruits (Houstonia caerulea, Rubiaceae)