Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Smooth Phlox - Phlox glaberrima   L.
Members of Polemoniaceae:
Members of Phlox with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Solanales » Family Polemoniaceae
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DistributionPresent over nearly all of the Mountains and Piedmont, but apparently absent from the northeastern corner of the Piedmont. In the Coastal Plain, extremely rare, with a disjunct record for Craven County.

This is an Eastern species found from MD to southern WI, south to western FL and LA.
AbundanceFrequent in the Mountains, widespread but not overly common as is P. carolina in the southern Mountains. Infrequent though widespread in the Piedmont, but very rare in the northeastern corner. Extremely rare in the Coastal Plain. The NCNHP's State Rank of S3 is clearly too conservative, considering that it has been collected from over 45 counties; a rank of S4 is more accurate.
HabitatThis is primarily a wetland species, favoring edges of streams, openings in bottomlands, wet meadows, and edges of damp woods. It may grow on drier soil, mainly where the soil is of high pH.
PhenologyBlooms from April to June, and fruits from June to July.
IdentificationThis is a widespread Phlox, generally familiar to most biologists, but it does not normally grow in large stands, unlike what P. carolina may do. It has an erect stem growing to 2-3 feet tall, strictly glabrous. It has 7-15 nodes, of opposite leaves, beneath the inflorescence. Each leaf is narrowly lanceolate, about 3-4 inches long and only about 2/5-inch wide, with entire margins; leaves of P. carolina are similar but are usually somewhat wider. In this species, the flower cluster -- a panicle of cymes -- is somewhat flat-topped to slightly rounded, often twice as wide as tall. The cluster of P. carolina is more dense and rounded, about like a baseball in size and shape, about as tall as wide, if not taller. The numerous rose-pink flowers in the cluster are standard for the genus, with a long tube and 5 flaring lobes, the flower nearly 1-inch long and about 4/5-inch wide. There are calyx details that may help separate the species from others; in P. carolina the calyx, including the lobes, are 9-12 mm long, versus 5-8 mm in P. glaberrima. Also, in P. carolina the calyx is subcylindric (tubular), the membranes weak, and the sepals are fairly broad and with a rather weak midrib; versus calyx subcampanulate (rather rounded to cup-like), the membranes firm, and the sepals narrow with a well-developed midrib in P. glaberrima. Generally, the inflorescence of P. glaberrima is flattened and generally wider than tall, whereas P. carolina has a rounded cluster. P. maculata has a tall but narrow inflorescence, quite cylindrical in shape, and it has distinctly red-spotted stems.
Taxonomic CommentsThough RAB (1968) considered there to be two varieties in the state, Weakley (2018) has concluded that these do not merit that distinction in his opinion, and thus his flora only lists the full species.

Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS3 [S4]
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
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USACE-empFAC link
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B.A. SorriePee Dee NWR, June 2015. AnsonPhoto_natural
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