Big flowers on a little stem! I literally stumbled on this low-growing phlox as I walked along the banks of Big Stoney Creek at Glen Alton in mid-May. The area would best be described as “open” woodlands.
Unlike many of the other phlox species in our area, mountain phlox blooms early (mid-May to early June) and grows to just 6 inches in height. Even at that, it tends to fall over or “recline” under the weight of its large blooms. Mountain phlox is notable because it has just a few pairs of small, opposite, elliptical leaves on the stem. Also, the long style and anthers protrude from the flower center (these structures are more recessed in other species). The five, pink to bluish petals of each flower are fused in the tube-shaped corolla.
Click on any of the photos for a larger view.
Illustration above from: USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols.Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York. Vol. 3: 54.