Houstonia procumbens

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Houstonia procumbens
Houstonia procumbens Gil.jpg
Photo was taken by Gil Nelson
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Rubiales
Family: Rubiaceae
Genus: Houstonia
Species: H. procumbens
Binomial name
Houstonia procumbens
(Walter ex J.F. Gmel.) Standl.
HOUS PROC dist.jpg
Natural range of Houstonia procumbens from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common names: Roundleaf bluet; Creeping bluet; Fairy-footprints; Innocence

Taxonomic notes

Synonyms: Hedyotis procumbens (Walter ex J.F. Gmelin) Fosberg; Houstonia rotundifolia Michaux; Houstonia procumbens var. procumbens; Houstonia procumbens var. hirsuta (W.H. Lewis) D. B. Ward


Houstonia procumbens is a perennial herbaceous species with a procumbent, spreading growth habit and small white flowers.[1]

"Erect or creeping annuals or perennials. Leaves opposite, the bases connected by small stipules. Flowers in cymes or appearing solitary; sepals 4, lanceolate or subulate; corolla salverform or funnelform, lobes usually shorter than the tube; stamens 4, included. Capsule 2-locular, slightly flattened, the lower ½ enclosed by the calyx tube, the apex loculicidal."[2]

"Prostrate or weakly decumbent, creeping perennial, the solitary pedicels erect, 1-4 cm tall. Leaves widely ovate to suborbicular, 7-10 mm long, 4-10 mm wide, margins ciliolate. Corolla white, the tube 5-7 mm long, glabrous within, lobes 4-6 mm long. Capsule 3-4 mm broad." [2]




H. procumbens occurs in moist to dry sandy or loamy soils, or in loose sand.[1] It can be found in light conditions from partial shade to full sun. Native habitat it can be found in includes longleaf pine-scrub oak-wiregrass sand ridges, mixed hardwood woodlands, open slash pine stands, sand dunes, turkey oak scrub, and on stream banks. However, it can also occur in disturbed habitat such as roadsides, parking areas, cutover pinewoods, mowed lawns, bulldozed slash pine savannas, open pastures, and along trails. Associated species include Pinus palustris, Quercus, Aristida stricta, Pinus elliottii, Quercus virginiana, Phlox floridana, Stillingia sylvatica, Asimina longifolia var. spathulata, Lactuca graminifolia, Stylosanthes biflora, Erigeron strigosa, Baptisia lanceolata, Hedyotis crassifolia, Pterocaulon undulatum, Asclepias humistrata, and Quercus hemisphaerica.[1]


This species has been observed flowering in January through May, July, August, and October with peak inflorescence in February. Fruiting has been observed in February through May, October, and November.[1][3] From the upper peninsula of Florida southward its flowering tends to be limited to the winter months.[4]

Seed dispersal

This species is thought to be dispersed by gravity. [5] Edwin Bridges and Alex Griffel observed in a sandhill woodland scrubby flatwoods in Polk County, Florida that, following flowering, as the fruit develops, the pedicels of the fruit recurve, and the fruit becomes buried in the sand below the prostrate leafy stems. When flowering is done, from above it looks like the plants are vegetative only, but if you pull them up and turn them over you can see abundant fruit.[6]

Seed bank and germination

In a longleaf pine community in southwestern Georgia, H. procumbens was found both in the standing vegetation and in the seedbank.[7]

Fire ecology

This species has been found in habitat that is often maintained by occasional fire.[1]


It is a nectar source in late winter and early Spring, visited by butterflies including the zebra swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus).[8]

Conservation and management

Cultivation and restoration

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: http://herbarium.bio.fsu.edu. Last accessed: June 2014. Collectors: Harry E. Ahles, Loran C. Anderson, George R. Cooley, Delzie Demaree, Patricia Elliott, Suellen Folensbee, J. P. Gillespie, Robert K. Godfrey, Gary R. Knight, R. Komarek, R. Kral, Sidney McDaniel, R. S. Mitchell, Joseph Monachino, R. A. Norris, Kevin Oakes, Elmer C. Prichard, Gwynn W. Ramsey, W. D. Reese, Paul O. Schallert, John W. Thieret, L. B. Trott, and Jean W. Wooten. States and Counties: Florida: Bay, Brevard, Citrus, Franklin, Gadsden, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, Suwannee, Volusia, Wakulla, Walton, and Washington. Georgia: Grady and Thomas. Louisiana: Washington. South Carolina: Colleton.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Radford, Albert E., Harry E. Ahles, and C. Ritchie Bell. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. 1964, 1968. The University of North Carolina Press. 981-3. Print.
  3. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. www.gilnelson.com/PanFlora/ Accessed: 12 DEC 2016
  4. Amye C. Travis post to Florida Flora and Ecosystematics Group on Facebook, January 4, 2017.
  5. Kirkman, L. Katherine. Unpublished database of seed dispersal mode of plants found in Coastal Plain longleaf pine-grasslands of the Jones Ecological Research Center, Georgia.
  6. Edwin Bridges post to Florida Flora and Ecosystematics Group on Facebook, February 23, 2017.
  7. Andreu, M. G., et al. 2009. Can managers bank on seed banks when restoring Pinus taeda L. plantations in southwest Georgia? Restoration Ecology 17:586-596.
  8. Post by "Brenda's Butterfly Habitat" to Florida Flora and Ecosystematics Post on Facebeook, February 18, 2015.