Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Creeping Phlox - Phlox stolonifera   Sims
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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DistributionThroughout the Mountains, and barely into the adjacent western Piedmont higher ranges; also very locally well into the Piedmont east to Orange (2022 photos on iNaturalist) and Montgomery counties.

This is essentially an Appalachian endemic, found from PA and OH south down the chain to western SC and northern AL.
AbundanceFairly common to locally common in the Mountains, rare and local in the Piedmont portion of the range. As this plant is stoloniferous, where it occurs it may grow in sizable stands.
HabitatThis is a forest-based species more than most in the genus, found in bottomland forests and on rich slopes, or near wooded stream banks. It is a typical plant of Rich Cove Forests, but it can be local in such places. Into the Piedmont it is found in Basic Mesic Forests and in rich bottomland forests. It is much less seen along wooded borders and other edges than others in the genus.
PhenologyBlooms in April and May, and fruits in May and June.
IdentificationThis is an odd member of the Phlox genus, as it occurs as creeping stems along the surface, with clumps or nodes of basal leaves that are odd-shaped. These basal leaves are spatulate, about 1.5 inches long and tapered to the base, rather thick and fleshy. Flowering stems are somewhat erect to spreading, about 8-12 inches tall, with a very few pairs of small opposite leaves. The cluster at the top of the stem is a cyme of only a few flowers, in an open array, with each one typical in shape and size for the group -- a long corolla tube and 5 flaring lobes nearly 1-inch across, but the corolla averages somewhat lavender-pink to lavender-rose, generally with a softer and more lavender color than the richer rose-pink of most Phlox members. As this species has such distinctive spatulate and basal leaves, and almost always occurs in dense stands of hundreds of flowering stems, you need no help in identifying it. A walk or drive in the lower elevations of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in late April or early May is bound to give you ample opportunity to see the species in abundance, often mixed with many white-flowering species and the bright yellow of Yellow Trillium (Trillium luteum) and many other flowering species.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS3S4
Global RankG4G5
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