Phlox Bifida OR''

Phlox Bifida OR''

Phlox Bifida

Phlox bifida (Sand Phlox) is a low-growing perennial forming a charming mat of small, linear, lance-shaped, bright green leaves, 2 in. long (5 cm). In mid spring to early summer, a profusion of slightly fragrant, lavender to white, snowflake-like flowers with deeply cleft lobes are on display. They attract butterflies and moths. Unlike many species of phlox, Sand Phlox is noted for having excellent resistance to powdery mildew and root rot.The native Sand Phlox is occasional to locally common in sandy areas of central and northern Illinois, otherwise it is uncommon or absent (see Distribution Map). Habitats include mesic to dry sand prairies, hill prairies, sandy savannas, sandy shoulders of roads, thinly wooded bluffs, cliffs, and limestone glades. Occasional wildfires are beneficial in reducing competition from woody vegetation.


Butterflies, skippers, and moths suck nectar from the flowers. The caterpillars of the moths Heliothis phloxiphagus (Darker-spotted Straw) and Heliothis turbatus (Spotted Straw) feed on the flowers and developing seeds of phlox species (Phlox spp.). Other insect feeders of these plants include Lopidea davisi (Phlox Plant Bug), the aphid Abstrusomyzus phloxae, and the stem-boring larvae of the long-horned beetle, Oberea flavipes. Most mammalian herbivores readily eat the foliage of Phlox spp.Sand Phlox has lovely flowers. The strongly cleft lobes of the flowers distinguish it from other Phlox spp. Across its range, Sand Phlox is somewhat variable in the appearance of its flowers and the hairiness of its foliage.

Another subspecies of Sand Phlox, Phlox bifida stellaria, has flowers that are cleft to about one-fourth the length of their lobes. The foliage of this subspecies has only non-glandular hairs, while the typical subspecies has both glandular and non-glandular hairs. The subspecies Phlox bifida stellaria is restricted to only 1 or 2 counties in southern Illinois, where it occurs in upland rocky areas. Regardless of the subspecies, another common name for Phlox bifida is Cleft Phlox. the first botanical records of native phlox first appear in Hortus Elthamensis, botanist Johann Dillenius' published description of a famous experimental garden near London in 1732. This garden, under the care of famed English botanist William Sherard, contained several species of wild phlox from America. From that time on, gardeners seemed to agree with horticulturist Karl Foerster that "a garden without a phlox is a mistake." In the language of flowers, phlox symbolizes either the union of souls or sweet dreams. In Victorian times, a bouquet of phlox often indicated a timid proposal of marriage. The name "phlox" comes from the Greek word for "flame," while the species name "bifida" means "divided into two parts," indicating the unique divided petals. (Source: www.everwilde.com)



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