Phlox bifida Beck

Sand Phlox

Phlox bifida plant

Family - Polemoniaceae

Stems - Multiple from base, erect or ascending to decumbent, often rooting at lower nodes, branching, villous, herbaceous, terete.

Phlox bifida stem

Leaves - Opposite, linear to linear-lanceolate, entire, sessile, acute, mucronate, -3cm long, 2-3mm broad, pubescent on new growth but becoming glabrous, with single midrib.

Phlox bifida leaves

Inflorescence - Terminal and axillary single flowers. Pedicels villous, 2-5mm long in flower, elongating in fruit to +1.5cm, erect.

Flowers - Corolla salverform, 5-lobed, typically some shade of blue to white. Corolla tube 1cm long, glabrous. Lobes +1cm long, deeply notched at apex, glabrous, with darker spots of color at base. Stamens 5, adnate at different levels in corolla tube, included. Anthers 2mm long, orange. Ovary ovoid, superior, green, glabrous, 1.2mm long, 3-locular. Placentation axile. Style greenish-white, 5.5mm long, glabrous. Stigmas 3. Calyx villous, 5-lobed (toothed), 8mm long. Lobes joined in lower 1/2 by scarious tissue, attenuate.

Phlox bifida calyxCalyx.

Phlox bifida flowerFlower close-up.

Flowering - March - May.

Habitat - Rocky and dry open woods, slopes, ravines, rocky outcroppings. Also widely cultivated.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This striking plant can be found growing wild in just a handful of Missouri counties. Wild plants are typically scraggly and thin because of the tough growing conditions the plant accepts. Cultivated plants are much more full-bodied and colorful and can form large mats when left alone. The pictures below are of cultivated specimens:

Phlox bifida plant

Phlox bifida flower

Photographs taken off Main St., Liberty, MO., 4-14-00, and in the Piney Creek Wilderness, Barry County, MO., 4-4-04.