Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Trailing Phlox - Phlox nivalis   Loddiges ex Sweet
Members of Polemoniaceae:
Members of Phlox with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Solanales » Family Polemoniaceae
AuthorLoddiges ex Sweet
DistributionNearly throughout the Piedmont, perhaps excluding the far northwestern counties; scattered in the southern Mountains but absent in the northern half. In the Coastal Plain, present over the southwestern third, including the Sandhills; ranges east to Nash, Wilson, Sampson, and Brunswick counties. However, in VA, the species occurs in the southern Coastal Plain next to the NC border, and thus records should be made for the northern Coastal Plain in upcoming years.

This is a Southern species, ranging north to southern VA, and through the Atlantic states to central FL and west to MS, and disjunct to eastern TX.
AbundanceFrequent to common in most of the Piedmont, at least more numerous in the southern and southeastern portions; common in the Sandhills, and fairly common to locally common in the southwestern Coastal Plain. Rare to uncommon in the southern Mountains.
HabitatThis is a species of quite dry soil. It is most often seen on roadbanks and dry woodland borders, but it also is found in pine/scrub oak sandhills, around flatrocks and other rock outcrops, and thin soil in open woods.
PhenologyBlooms from March to May, and fruits soon after flowering.
IdentificationThis is a unique Phlox for the Piedmont and Coastal Plain, being evergreen, semi-woody (suffruticose), and a sprawling plant that sends up erect but deciduous flowering shoots to 2-5 inches high. It has needle-like leaves, usually several in a whorl, with numerous whorls, and thus the plant is quite like a "dwarf cedar". These leaves are barely 1/3-inch long and are very crowded on the plant. At the end of each stem grow a few flowers, each a typical rose to pink in color with the long tube and 5 flaring lobes, about 1-inch across. In this species, the lobes are slightly notched to squared off at the apex, with red dots at the bases of the lobes. When in bloom, the species is unmistakable, but a few other plants of dry roadbanks, edges, and sandhills do look somewhat similar in vegetative form -- Pine-barren Sandwort (Mononeuria caroliniana), Sandhill St. John's-wort (Hypericum lloydii), and Atlantic St. John's-wort (H. tenuifolium). When in bloom, this is a familiar and often seen pink-flowered spring wildflower of dry places.
Taxonomic CommentsMost references list several sub-taxa. Weakley (2018) lists two subspecies, which are really varieties as the ranges overlap -- ssp. hentzii, found more in the Piedmont, and ssp. nivalis, of the Coastal Plain and much of the Piedmont and Mountains.

Other Common Name(s)Pine Phlox
State RankS4 [S4S5]
Global RankG4 [G4G5]
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B.A. SorrieSame data. ScotlandPhoto_natural
B.A. SorrieSandhills Game Land, Apr 2010. ScotlandPhoto_natural
B.A. SorriePiedmont, Beulah Church Road, Apr 2017. RandolphPhoto_natural
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