wild blue phlox

(Phlox divaricata ssp. laphamii)

Conservation Status
wild blue phlox
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N3N5 - Vulnerable to Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


Wild blue phlox is a 9 to 18 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises on fertile and nonfertile shoots from a taproot and above-ground stolons.

Nonfertile stems recline on the ground with their tips ascending (decumbent). Fertile stems are erect, leafy, unbranched except near the inflorescence, green to reddish brown. Both types of stems are covered with long, fine, soft, white hairs. Nonfertile stems are shorter and less hairy than fertile stems.

The leaves are opposite, stalkless, and 1 to 2¼ long, to 1 wide. Leaves on nonfertile stems are narrowly egg-shaped to lance-shaped. They taper to a blunt or rounded tip. Leaves on fertile stems are lance-shaped and taper to a pointed tip but rarely to a sharp pointed tip. The margins of all of the leaves are untoothed. The lower leaves are almost hairless. The upper leaves are hairy.

The inflorescence is a loosely branched cluster of 9 to 30 flowers at the end of the flowering stem. It is covered with fine, glandular hairs.

The flowers are ¾ to 1 wide and fragrant. They have 5 pale blue-purple to red-purple or sometimes white petals. The petals unite at the base forming a long, thin corolla tube, then separate into 5 long, widely spreading lobes. The petal lobes are inversely egg-shaped. They abruptly narrow before the throat becoming much narrower toward the flower center than at their tips. The tips are rounded and may be slightly indented or slightly pointed but are not notched. The stamens are not visible at the opening of the corolla tube.

The fruit is a 3-chambered, egg-shaped capsule with usually 1, rarely 2, seeds per chamber.




9 to 18


Flower Color


Pale blue-purple to red-purple or white


Similar Species


Downy phlox (Phlox pilosa ssp. fulgida), has much narrower leaves that narrow to a sharp, hardened tip. The petal lobes taper gradually to the throat. The stamens are visible at the opening of the corolla tube.

Wild sweet William (Phlox maculata) has an unbranched, cylinder-shaped inflorescence. The stamens are visible at the opening of the corolla tube.

Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata) is a tall, cultivated plant that can get to six feet tall. The stamens are visible at the opening of the corolla tube.

Moss phlox (Phlox subulata ssp. subulata) is a prostrate ground cover with whorled, linear to awl-shaped leaves. The flower petals are notched at the tip. It is found in rocky areas and sandy or gravelly soil.

Dame’s rocket (Hesperis matronalis) is much taller, has alternate, toothed leaves, and has flowers with four petals.


Moist soils. Rich, moist, deciduous woods; fields.




April to June




Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 24, 28.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  


Ericales (heathers, balsams, primroses, and allies)  


Polemoniaceae (phlox)  
  Subfamily Polemonioideae  


Phlox (phlox)  
  Section Divaricatae  
  Species Phlox divaricata (wild blue phlox)  

Subordinate Taxa



  Phlox divaricata var. laphamii  

Common Names


blue phlox

forest phlox

Lapham’s phlox

sweet William

wild blue phlox

wild sweet-William

woodland phlox












A collective name for all of the petals of a flower.



Reclining on the ground but with the tips ascending.


Glandular hairs

Hairs spread over aerial vegetation that secrete essential oils. The oils act to protect against herbivores and pathogens or, when on a flower part, attract pollinators. The hairs have a sticky or oily feel.



An above-ground, creeping stem that grows along the ground and produces roots and sometimes new plants at its nodes. A runner.

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Wayne Rasmussen

Wild columbine and wild blue phlox

  wild columbine    
  wild blue phlox   wild blue phlox
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos


  wild blue phlox   wild blue phlox
  wild blue phlox    


  wild blue phlox   wild blue phlox


  wild blue phlox    



  Wild Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata)
Bill Keim
  Wild Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata)  



Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Phlox divaricata (Wild Blue Phlox)

Uploaded on Apr 27, 2010

http://www.prairiemoon.com/ - This native Phlox is great for the woodland or a sunny location. Observe it blooming here in the Prairie Moon gardens April 21.

  Wild Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata)

Published on Apr 17, 2012

Wild Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata)

  White Oak Sink - Blue Phlox

Uploaded on Jan 26, 2011

A glimpse at one area of the incomparable White Oak Sink and its forest floor, carpeted with Blue Phlox and May-apple. Date taken: April 21, 2010.

  woodland phlox
Allan Armitage

Published on Jun 21, 2013




Visitor Sightings

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Wayne Rasmussen

Location: Rice Lake State Park

Wild columbine and wild blue phlox

wild blue phlox

Wayne Rasmussen

Location: Rice Lake SP, Steele Co, MN

wild blue phlox

Wayne Rasmussen

Location: Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

wild blue phlox

MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings




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