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
Family:Boraginaceae (Borage)
Plant Type:Annual
Size:up to 30 inches
Habitat:dry slopes in Oak Woodland and Coastal Sage
Blooms:March to June
Fire Response:Fire Follower

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

Fern-Leaf Phacelia - Originally featured: March 2013
Last modified: May 12 2017 16:40:59.
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