Thursday, April 12, 2012

Timber Phlox

Did you ever notice there are two kinds of Woodland or Timber Phlox? I sure didn’t, but whenever I spend time in the field with Scott Namestnik, he points out things I’ve been walking past for decades without noticing. The distal end of the petals can rounded or notched, as shown below. Indiana lies in or near the transition zone between the two varieties and they commonly grow together. I think they intergrade, but it’s just an opinion - I haven’t done research on this. It's likely that some authors don't recognize the varieties, treating all of it as a single, variable species. Both of these were photographed at the botanically rich Bendix Woods County Park in St. Joseph County, Indiana. While I was attempting to get these pictures, a Hummingbird Moth of some type visited several of the flowers, and I chased it around with the camera for a while, but it wouldn't hold still.

Phlox divaricata var. laphamii, with unnotched petals (western)
Phlox divaricata var. divaricata, with notched petals (eastern).

"Once in a while, spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. " John Muir


Bradford Slaughter said...

All MI collections are referred to ssp. divaricata in Voss & Reznicek. I am convinced I have observed unnotched specimens somewhere in SW Michigan, so will be sure to pay more careful attention to this phenomenon in the near future.

Bradford Slaughter said...

Well, most of the specimens I observed at Dowagiac Woods on Saturday had unnotched petals. Voss & Reznicek refer all of our specimens to var. divaricata. I'm curious where the unnotched populations drop out.

Lita a.k.a. Aunt Mary said...

I took a photo of the notched form near Hopkins, Minnesota today, but our guide books say it shouldn't be notched! I'd post a pic but don't know how on this site.