Phlox pilosa (Prairie Phlox)
|Also known as:||Downy Phlox|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; dry; prairies, open woods|
|Bloom season:||May - July|
|Plant height:||6 to 24 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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A dome-shaped cluster to 3 inches across at the top of the plant. Flowers are short-stalked, pink to purplish (rarely white), ½ to ¾ inch across, with a long, slender tube, 5 broad, spreading lobes and 5 yellow-tipped stamens hiding inside the tube. There is often a darker pink spot at the base of each lobe.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are narrowly lance-linear, to 3 inches long, 1/8 to ½ inch wide, toothless, with a long taper to a pointed tip, a rounded base, and no stalk. The texture is slightly rough from short hairs. Leaves are widely spaced on the stem and oppositely attached, with pairs at right angles to the pair above and below. The stem is erect to ascending, densely covered in white hairs, and typically unbranched except in the flowers.
Prairie Phlox adds a splash of shocking pink to prairies each June. It also does well in a garden, in sunny, sandy soil. There are numerous varieties (or subspecies, depending on the reference)—up to 9 total, most of which are very localized in a few states. The primary distinguishing trait is the calyx hair (or lack thereof); the hair length and whether hairs are glandular sets one apart from another. The one in Minnesota and most of the Midwest is var. fulgida, which is not glandular and has very fine hairs on the calyx.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Prairie Phlox plant
- Prairie Phlox habitat
- Prairie Phlox plants
- Prairie Phlox with Butterfly-weed and Spiderwort
- garden-grown Prairie Phlox
Photos by K. Chayka taken at Wild River State Park, Chisago County, and Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, Sherburne County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?