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Commelina erecta L.

Erect dayflower

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassLiliopsidaMonocots (plants with a single seed leaf); includes the lily family
SubclassCommelinidaeDayflowers and spiderworts, and several others
OrderCommelinalesIncludes dayflowers (spiderworts), bloodworts, water hyacinths, others
FamilyCommelinaceaeDayflower or spiderwort family
GenusCommelinaAfter Dutch botanists Jan (1629-1692) and his nephew Caspar (1667-1731) Commelijn, known to Linnaeus and Charles Plumier, a French Franciscan monk, botanist and traveler who apparently named this flower. Jan, or Johan, Commelijn was a doctor and the director of botany at the Hortus Medicus (Medical Garden) in Amsterdam, who worked with many Asian tropical plants sent back to Holland. Linnaeus allegedly decided to commemorate the Commelins because the dayflower has two large petals (for Jan and Caspar) and a third small petal (for another Commelijn who died young before he could accomplish anything in botany), but this may well be an apocryphal though convenient explanation

About plant names...

Slender dayflower is native to the Americas, Africa, and western Asia. The genus, Commelina, is an in-joke created by Linnaeus himself, commemorating three botanist brothers, the Commelyns. Two of the brothers, akin to the dayflowers' two prominent petals, published papers and went on to successful careers, while the third amounted to nothing, like the inconsequential white petal on the dayflower.

Identification: These plants tend to lie prostrate, growing along the ground up to 3' (91 cm) unless they have other plants to crawl over. The pair of opposing blue petals, looking a bit like Mickey Mouse ears, are the most obvious identifying feature. There is a third, smaller petal below. Flowers are about ¾" (1.9 cm) across.

Online References:

Illinois Wildflowers


The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and the Plants of the Sonoran Desert

Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Native Plants of Texas

Kansas Wildflowers and Grasses

The Vanderbilt University Bioimages web site



Commelina erecta description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Commelina erecta (erect dayflower)

7/3/2012 · By Jacquelyn Boyt

Commelina erecta (erect dayflower)

7/3/2012 · By Jacquelyn Boyt


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