We have several species of phlox in Northeastern California where Leonard and I live. As some of the season’s earliest flowering plants, I always associate phlox with spring. Showy phlox (Phlox speciosa) is a native perennial found in dry forests and sagebrush flats throughout western North America from British Columbia to Arizona and New Mexico. It grows from a half to two feet in height.
The only phlox in our area with deeply notched petals, the branched stems of showy phlox derive from a woody taproot and a somewhat shrubby base, have opposite, long, lance-like leaves and are topped by a loose cluster of solitary flowers. The plant is glandular, particularly near the top of the stem. The five pink petals are fused into a trumpet with a long tube and a darker central ring. The corolla (flower) tube is a length longer than the sepals. Neither the stamens nor styles extend beyond the floral tube. Occasionally showy phlox is white or the central ring on a pink flower is light in color. Showy phlox reproduces by seeds which are contained in a capsule.
Lewis and Clark collected showy phlox in 1806.
These showy phlox were photographed along State Highway 139 near the Termo cutoff (Lassen County CA).