Phlox Family

Snall-flowered Leptosiphon © AFengler

Polemoniaceae (po-le-moh-nee-AY-see-ee)

Iconic Features

    • Often small annuals
    • Tubular flowers with flat faces
    • Usually with 3-lobed stigmas

    Description (Jepson)

      • Eudicotyledons (eudicots) – a major lineage of flowering plants including most plants traditionally described as dicots and generally characterized by
        • 2 seed leaves (dicotyledon)
        • Netted (reticulate) leaf venation
        • Flower parts in fours and fives
        • Pollen grains with 3 pores (tricolpate)
        • Vascular bundles in stem arranged in a ring
        • Taproot system
      • Annual or perennial herbs, vines, and small shrubs
        • Most California phloxes are small annuals
      • Leaves
        • Simple (not divided into leaflets) or compound (divided into leaflets)
        • Alternate (1 leaf at each junction with stem) or opposite (2 leaves at each junction with stem)
        • Usually narrow
      • Flowers
        • Inflorescence (flower arrangement) in many forms
        • Bisexual, radially or bilaterally symmetric tube-shaped flowers with flat, dish-like faces (salverform)
        • Flower parts generally in fives
          • 5 partially-fused sepals (usually green, outer flower parts), often connected by a translucent membrane
          • 5 petals, usually fused, twisted in bud
          • 5 stamens (male flower parts)
        • Single pistil (female flower part) with a 3-lobed stigma (pollen-receiving structure)
        • Ovary superior (above the attachment of other flower parts)
      • Fruit a generally 3-chambered capsule (a dry, multi-chambered fruit that splits open at maturity)


        • Approximately 314 species in the Northern Hemisphere and South America
          • Greatest diversity of species in western North America, particularly California
          • Includes skunkweeds, leptosiphons, phloxes, and gilias
          • Many cultivated as ornamentals
          • All 78 wild-growing species documented by CalFlora in the Bay Area are native
        • Seeds in the genus Collomia swell and are gelatinous when wet
        • Scientific name from the included genus Polemonium, possibly from the Greek polemonion referring to plants associated with the Greek herbalist Polemon of Cappadocia
        • Common name from the Greek phlox, “flame,” an old name for the genus Lychnis (campions or catchflies) in the Pink family (Caryophyllaceae)
        • Represented by 11 species at Edgewood

        See General References

        Browse Some Edgewood Plants in this Family