Smooth Phlox

Phlox glabberrima

Here’s a showy “hot pink” wildflower that is coming into bloom in May. In contrast to other phlox species, the stem of Smooth Phlox is not hairy, hence the name “smooth”.  It’s leaves are opposite and lanceolate (long and narrow), without prominent veins.

The flower is 5-lobed with a long tube in the rear; not hairy (smooth)
The flower is 5-lobed with a long tube in the rear; not hairy (smooth)

Smooth phlox flowers are deep pink and they are about a half to three quarters inches wide. What looks at first glance to be 5 petals are actually 5 lobes that are then fused into a tube behind the flower; the tube is very long. Look closely to see that the anthers are visible in the center of the flower, but just barely.

Flower buds are arranged in a tight cluster at the top of the plant
Flower buds are arranged in a tight cluster at the top of the plant

Before opening, the flower buds of Smooth Phlox are arranged very closely in a cluster (cyme) as in the photo to the right.

Butterflies and visitors like you should look for this sweet-smelling flower in wet or dry woods in May through July. The plant pictured in this series was found growing along the banks of Pandapas Pond in Montgomery County on May 17th. It was a little beaten up by the recent heavy rains, but it was pretty nonetheless.

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