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Types of Flowers
Phlox commonly refers to the genus (Phlox) of flowering plants in the larger Phlox (Polemoniaceae) family.
Polemoniaceae divides into about two dozen genera, with Jacob's Ladder, genus Polemonium, often gets top bill as the family nickname.
The Phlox genus consists of both native and hybridized garden plants that produce colorful clumps of ground level flowers.
The approximately seventy different native plants are both hardy and adaptable, growing from sea level to mountain tops during all seasons throughout North America, including Canada and Alaska.
Many of the native phlox have five, pink notched petals, making identification of any one species difficult. An examination of the size and location of the species, along with an examination of the leaves is usually sufficient for identification purposes.
The top picture, for example, shows a Woodland Phlox (phlox adsurgens), a West Coast native that grows in woodland areas. The top of the picture also shows the plant's small oval leaves.
While many phlox species can be difficult to identify, the diminutive size of midget phlox (Phlox gracilis), or slender phlox, makes its identification fairly straightforward.
The flower head can easily fit onto an average person's little finger tip. The picture shows a Midget Phlox flower enlarged by a factor of four or five to highlight its appearance, which like many phlox species, is characterized by five, pink notched petals.
Another West Coast phlox species, Dwarf Phlox (Phlox condensata) also has small flowers, however their petals are more white and they tend to grow in large bunches. Midget phlox tends to grow as single plants with a handful of flowers emanating from branches off the main stem.
Spreading Phlox (Phlox diffusa) is one of the most widespread of the mid to hight elevation Western Phlox species.
The small, white to pink flowers are complimented by small, pointed green leaves that form mats along the ground.
© 2009-2011 Patricia A. Michaels