Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council Plants Resource Page

Plant of the Month - Large-Flowered Phacelia

Tree Tobacco

Large-Flowered Phacelia

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Plant Description

Common Name(s):Large-Flowered Phacelia
Scientific Name:Phacelia grandiflora
Plant Type:Annual
Size:up to 3 feet
Habitat:woodlands, chaparral, coastal sage scrub
Blooms:January to June
Fire Response:Fire Follower

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

Additional References:
Roadside Plants of Southern California, by Thomas J. Belzer
California Native Plants for the Garden, by Carol Bornstein, David Fross, and Bart O'Brien
California Herbal Remedies, by LoLo Westrich
Originally featured: March 2007
Last modified: April 12 2019 20:46:16.
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