Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council Plants Resource Page

Plant of the Month - Fern-Leaf Phacelia

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Plant Description

Common Name(s):Fern-Leaf Phacelia
Scientific Name:Phacelia distans
Plant Type:Annual
Size:up to 30 inches
Habitat:dry slopes in Oak Woodland and Coastal Sage
Blooms:March to June

Fern-Leaf Phacelia is a many-branching annual which blooms from March to June. It grows in dry places and, like other Phacelias, is quick to reestablish after a fire. The foliage, as its name implies, resembles that of ferns, with pinnately divided oblong leaves in a lush green color. Leaves and stems are hairy. Flowers unfold from a coil and are about an half-inch in diameter. Their color ranges from lavendar to a deep blue-violet. They have 5 petals and 5 stamens, with the stamens not extruding much beyond the petals.

The genus name Phacelia is a Greek term meaning "cluster", referring to the crowded flower spikes found in many plants in this genus. The species name distans means the stamens are spaced apart from each other. A related species, Phacelia tanacetifolia, looks similar but can be distinguished by much longer extruding stamens than Phacelia distans.

Contributed by Liz Baumann

Other Similar Plants:
Large-Flowered Phacelia Phacelia grandiflora
Eucrypta Eucrypta chrysanthemifolia
Yerba Santa Eriodichtyon crassifolium
Parry’s Phacelia Phacelia parryi
Fiesta Flower Pholistoma auritum
Prickly Popcorn Flower Cryptantha muricata
Common Fiddleneck Amsinckia intermedia
Whispering Bells Emmenanthe penduliflora
Wild Heliotrope Heliotropium curassavicum

Originally featured: March 2013
Last modified: May 12 2017 23:40:59.
Wildflowers of the Santa Monica Mountains, by Milt McAuley
Flowering Plants: The Santa Monica Mountains, Coastal and Chaparral Regions of Southern California, by Nancy Dale
Images Botanical Terms for Leaves