There are dozens of species of the genus Phacelia in the United States, and quite a few are found here in our Santa Monica mountains. This particular species is a sturdy-looking plant with showy, saucer-shaped lavender flowers that are present from February to June. The petals have darker purple streaks producing a veined look. Grandifloria tells you that the flowers are larger than in other Phacelia species - they are up to 2 inches in diameter.
The plant is hairy throughout and sticky, exuding a substance that leaves a reddish tint on what they touch and may cause a rash for some people. Its leaves are oval-shaped, tooth-edged and about 2 inches long.
Other Phacelias you may encounter in our area are Parry's Phacelia, whose striking flowers are a deep purple with white spots towards the insides of the petals; Caterpillar Phacelia, with small whitish flowers perched on top of a wispy, caterpillar-like structure; and Imbricate Phacelia, somewhat resembling Caterpillar Phacelia but having the flower-caterpillar-like structure being more compact.
Contributed by Liz Baumann
, by Thomas J. Belzer