Phlox nivalis Lodd. - Trailing Phlox

Phlox nivalis plant

Family - Polemoniaceae

Stems:

Phlox nivalis stem

Leaves:

N/A

Inflorescence:

N/A

Flowers:

Phlox nivalis calyxCalyx.

Phlox nivalis flower

Flowering - March - May.

Habitat - Sandhills, dry pinelands, dry deciduous woods.

Origin - Native to North America.

Other information - This attractive and early flowering species can be found in just a few scattered Alabama counties. The plant is found in sandhill and dry habitats which limits its range in the state. This species can be identified by its woody, trailing stems (the flowering stems are erect), its linear leaves, and erose-margined flower petals. The petals can also have a notch at their apices and this often makes the plant easy to confuse with another species, P. subulata L.
P. subulata is also uncommon in Alabama. It never has woody stems. The plant also has more deeply notched petals and stamens which are partially exserted from the flowers. Other than these differences p. subulata and P. nivalis look very much alike. The plants do occur in different soil types, however. P. nivalis prefers acidic, sandy soil whereas P. subulata prefers rocky, basic soils.
The genus name Phlox is the Greek word for "flame" and was the ancient name of another genus, Lychnis.
The species epithet nivalis derives from the Latin "niv(al)" meaning "snowy" probably referring to the flowers, which are often white.

Alabama Distribution:

Phlox nivalis map

Photographs taken at the Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve, NC., 4-27-03.


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