Wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata, Polemoniaceae) can often be seen flowering in the spring in the woodlands of eastern North America. From March through May these spring ephemerals take advantage of abundant early season sunshine, growing and completing reproduction before most trees have fully leafed out. By the time canopy trees have blanketed the forest floor in shade these plants have already gone to seed.
These perennials have stems and leaves that are covered in hairs and are usually sticky to the touch. Flowers feature five notched petals that can appear blue, white, red, pink, or purple, but lavender is most common. Plants are pollinated primarily by bumble bees, bee flies, butterflies, and moths, who use their long “tongues” to sip nectar from deep within the flowers. Although pollination and reproduction result in seeds, wild blue phlox also spreads by rhizomes.