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Fringed Phacelia, White Fringed Phacelia, Fringed Scorpion-Weed, Blue Ridge Phacelia, Mountain Phacelia - Phacelia fimbriata


Family: Hydrophyllaceae - Waterleaf family Genus Common Name: Phacelia Native Status: Native
Phacelia fimbriata - Fringed Phacelia, White Fringed Phacelia, Fringed Scorpion-Weed, Blue Ridge Phacelia, Mountain Phacelia. There are nearly 200 species of Phacelia, a plant native to North and South America. Around 150 or so are found in North America (Iíve read authorities who listed both of those numbers as lower), and most of those are western species, with California claiming the most of any state. Only 14 species are found in the eastern United States. Two of those 14 species, Phacelia fimbriata - the species presented here - and Phacelia purshii - Miami Mist - are the only Phacelia species with fringed petals. These two species are quite similar - reports that P. fimbriata is found in Alabama, as shown on the USDA Plants Database map and many other sources, are probably a result of P. purshii being mistaken for P. fimbriata.

Fringed Phacelia, shown on this page, is usually white, although to add to the confusion, it can be a pale blue or lavender, as is Miami Mist. Fringed Phacelia is a weaker-stemmed plant, usually smaller, and has much deeper fringe than Miami Mist. Fringed Phacelia is also found at higher elevations than Miami Mist, usually higher than 3,500 feet. Seed germination for these species occurs in the fall (they both overwinter as a rosette of leaves), but germination of P. fimbriata requires cooler temperatures found at higher elevations. Because of this, Fringed Phacelia has a much narrower range than P. purshii - the high mountains of the southern Appalachians, with large populations being found in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where the photos on this page were taken.

Found in:
GA, NC, TN, VA

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Phacelia fimbriata

Distribution of Phacelia fimbriata in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2009. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 25 Mar 2017). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

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Site: GSMNP, Swain County, NC Date: 2015-May-05Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The flower of Fringed Phacelia makes the common name obvious - the five petals are deeply fringed, much more so than that of the other fringed Phacelia - Miami Mist (P. purshii.) The flower is usually white, although it may occasionally be pale lavender, causing some confusion with Miami Mist, which is pale lavender to blue with a white center. I find the lavender anthers of Fringed Phacelia to be quite striking. The inflorescence of Fringed Phacelia usually has between 5 and 15 flowers.
Phacelia fimbriata

Site: GSMNP, Swain County, NC Date: 2015-May-05Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Both the upper sessile leaves and the lower petioled leaves can be seen in this photograph. Both upper and lower leaves are pinnatifid, with 5 to 9 lobes on each leaf. The lobes are usually slightly wider than those of Miami Mist. The weak stems, inflorescence, and leaves are hairy, although the stems of Fringed Phacelia are generally less hairy than those of Miami Mist. As you can see, Phacelia fimbriata sometimes shares habitat with Claytonia species.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Phacelia fimbriata

Site: GSMNP, Swain County, NC Date: 2015-May-05Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Phacelia fimbriata can grow in large colonies, making mountain slopes look almost snow-covered at times. While it is locally abundant in areas of the Great Smoky Mountains, its limited distribution make it a rare find outside the park.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Phacelia fimbriata

Site: GSMNP, Swain County, NC Date: 2015-May-05Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Fringed Phacelia grows densely, and with the weak stems it frequently is found in procumbent masses - lying along the ground - than is Miami Mist.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Phacelia fimbriata

Site: GSMNP, Swain County, NC Date: 2015-May-05Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Phacelia fimbriata can look quite striking on open forest floors in mid to late spring.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Phacelia fimbriata

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer