Phlox divaricata (Wild Blue Phlox)

Plant Info
Also known as: Woodland Phlox, Blue Wood Phlox
Genus:Phlox
Family:Polemoniaceae (Phlox)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade, shade; rich woods
Bloom season:April - June
Plant height:10 to 18 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: tubular Cluster type: flat Cluster type: round

[photo of flowers] A flattish cluster about 3 inches across at the top of the stem. Flowers are ¾ to 1 inch across with 5 petals fused at the base, forming a long, slender tube; hidden inside the tube are 5 stamens and a short style. The petals are narrow at the base; the tip end is wider and round or slightly indented. Color ranges from pale blue to blue-violet to reddish purple, occasionally white.

[photo of calyx] At the base of the tube is a slender calyx, purplish and glandular hairy, with 5 long, narrow, spreading teeth.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are 1 to 2 inches long and to ½ inch wide, toothless, tapering to a blunt or pointed tip, rounded at the base, and stalkless. Surfaces are finely hairy, with short fine hairs along the edges. Attachment is opposite, with leaf pairs at right angles to the pair above and below and widely spaced on the stem. Stems are mostly erect, unbranched except in the flowers, and may be somewhat sticky from glandular hairs. On non-flowering plants, the leaves may be wider, rounded at the tip end, and less hairy overall.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

Fruit is an oval capsule about 1/6 inch long, shorter than the calyx.

Notes:

The flowers make a nice contrast with the lush green of spring growth in woodlands across the southern half of the state, and does well in a shade garden. There are two recognized varieties (or subspecies, depending on the reference) of Wild Blue Phlox: var. divaricata, found from Illinois eastward, has flowers with petals notched at the tip, and var. laphamii, covering much of the eastern half of North America, including Minnesota, without the notches.

Please visit our sponsors

  • Wild Ones Twin Cities Chapter

Where to buy native seed and plants ↓

Map of native plant purveyors in the upper midwest

  • Shop for native seeds and plants at PrairieMoon.com!
  • Shooting Star Native Seeds - Native Prairie Grass and Wildflower Seeds
  • Morning Sky Greenery - Native Prairie Plants
  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers
  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Wild River State Park, Chisago County, and in Goodhue County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Goodhue County.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: J. Iverson - Fort Snelling State Park
on: 2011-06-03 14:28:41

Near trails around the visitor center.

Posted by: Erica - St. Paul
on: 2013-06-09 13:09:28

Does anyone know of a MN woodland phlox with larger leaves? I have only seen it pictured in a blog from Bayfield. It grows in full shade and looks like a phlox flower, but wider leaves. Doesn't look like the native phlox you have posted here. Leaves are alternating, serrated and feel a little fuzzy. Is this a non-native?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2013-06-09 16:29:19

Erica, you may have come across dame's rocket, an invasive species often mistaken for a phlox. It has 4 petals rather than 5.

Posted by: Jay - Elm Creek Park Preserve, Maple Grove, MN
on: 2013-06-09 17:06:22

On June 9, 2013, blooming in profusion along the Oxbow Loop south of Eastman Nature Center. Some scattered plants also along the northern part of Sumac Trail.

Posted by: Larese - Evelyth
on: 2015-05-02 12:54:04

my great grandparents, grandparents, and one day my parents will be buried in Evelyth. I purchased some WildPhlox at a native plant sale for my garden, and found this page... Of course we've had trouble with deer eating the gravesite plants... Would phlox do well?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2015-05-04 03:29:00

Larese, Phlox divaricata is a woodland species and won't likely do well in an open, sunny area like a graveyard. You might try Phlox pilosa instead, which may be better suited to that type of site. I don't know about the deer, though.

Posted by: Alan - Whitewater State Park
on: 2015-05-09 12:37:48

Many scattered clumps of this flower growing in the low wooded areas below the bluffs.

Posted by: dee - Iowa
on: 2015-05-25 19:05:23

I am a Minnesotan--and now live over the border in Iowa.--just a little wys. I have many many deer,.and Wild Phlox do well. The deer do not eat them. They are very hungry deer and even eat a good share of things that deer aren't suppose to--but they leave the wild phlox alone.!!! I think that this is valid in Minnesota as well.

Posted by: Tom - Kasota Prairie
on: 2015-06-16 02:10:07

The phlox that I observed at the prairie have a small compound like leaf structure coming out of the leaf axils. Anyone know what this is? Not mentioned in any of my field guides.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2015-07-05 11:39:27

Tom, could it perhaps be prairie phlox (Phlox pillosa), which is far more likely to be found in a prairie than blue wood phlox. :)

Posted by: Jane - State park along Cannon River SE of Red Wing
on: 2016-05-20 22:01:47

Many clumps of blue phlox divaricata are blooming in the ditches along the gravel road.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.



(required)




Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.