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Miami Mist, Purple Scorpionweed - Phacelia purshii


Family: Hydrophyllaceae - Waterleaf family Genus Common Name: Phacelia Native Status: NativeDicot Annual Herb
Phacelia purshii - Miami Mist, Purple Scorpionweed. The Phacelia genus is classified by some as in the Hydrophylloideae subfamily of Boraginaceae, while other authorities believe that subfamily should be classified as the separate family Hydrophyllaceae. I currently show it in the separate Hydrophyllaceae family, but am not sure whether that separation will stick or not.

Thanks to Mike Christison of the Georgia Botanical Society for pointing me in the direction of this population of Phacelia purshii, on a flood plain of a small creek at the foot of Pigeon Mountain. Flood plains and moist forest slopes are the normal habitat for Phacelia purshii, which is found in 20 states in the eastern half of the United States. Phacelia purshii was discovered by Frederick Pursh, a German botanist who spent more than two decades in North America in the 18th and 19th centuries. The plant is similar to the smaller, white-flowered P. fimbriata, Fringed Phacelia. P. boykinii and P. bicknellii are usually considered synonyms of P. purshii by most authorities, although there is some indication that there may be reason to consider these separate species.

Found in:
AL, AR, CT, DC, GA, IL, IN, KY, MD, MI, MO, NC, NJ, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, WV

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Phacelia purshii

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

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 26 May 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Blue Hole Area, Pigeon Mountain East, Walker County, GA Date: 2014-May-02Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
Phacelia purshii has small (about .5 inch) lavender or sometimes blue blossoms with a white center and 5 fringed lobes. There may be up to 30 flowers in the inflorescence.
Phacelia purshii

Site: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Wear Cove Gap Road, Sevier County, TN Date: 2015-May-06Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The fringe on the petals of Phacelia purshii plants found in the Smoky Mountains seems a bit long than those in Walker County, Ga.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Phacelia purshii

Site: Blue Hole Area, Pigeon Mountain East, Walker County, GA Date: 2014-April-16Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Plants in the Hydrophyllaceae family (or Hydrophylloideae subfamily of Boraginaceae, if you subscribe to the broader definition of Boraginaceae) are hairy plants whose flowers are in coiled cymes which unfurl as the blossoms open.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Phacelia purshii

Site: Blue Hole Area, Pigeon Mountain East, Walker County, GA Date: 2014-April-16Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Phacelia purshii blossoms have deeply fringed lobes. As with all plants in Hydrophyllaceae, Miami Mist is hairy.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Phacelia purshii

Site: Blue Hole Area, Pigeon Mountain East, Walker County, GA Date: 2014-April-16Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Miami Mist grows to about 20 inches tall, and is branched with its coiled inflorescences terminating the stems. When a large mass colony is in bloom, the color can look like a mist on the forest floor.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Phacelia purshii

Site: Blue Hole Area, Pigeon Mountain East, Walker County, GA Date: 2014-April-16Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The leaf of Phacelia purshii is coarsely, pinnately lobed, and is hairy, especially along the margins and veins. The stem is covered with appressed hairs.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Phacelia purshii

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