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Species Spotlight – Phlox stolonifera (creeping phlox)

Species Spotlight – Phlox stolonifera (creeping phlox)

Phlox stolonifera (creeping phlox) is an elusive species confined to nearly undisturbed sites in state and national forests.  Propagated mostly through division in the wild (we have yet to observe seed set on this species), Phlox stolonifera is found in small patches that somehow have survived 100s of years of habitat manipulation.

2016 ArcheWild - Phlox stolonifera 069b habitat - 2016 ArcheWild -0511_152152

2016 ArcheWild – Phlox stolonifera 069b habitat

In Pennsylvania, its habitat closely resembles that of most Antennaria (pussytoes) species in the state; tops of slopes in well-drained, thin soils where competition from other plant species is severely limited.

2016 ArcheWild - Phlox stolonifera 069b habitat - 2016 ArcheWild -0511_152059

2016 ArcheWild – Phlox stolonifera 069b habitat

This particular patch was located in the Central Appalachian region in Pennsylvania – EcoRegion 069b, Uplands and Valleys of Mixed Land Use.  Perched atop a forest road cut and relatively safe from machinery, people, and forest encroachment.

2016 ArcheWild - Phlox stolonifera 069b habitat

2016 ArcheWild – Phlox stolonifera 069b habitat

Phlox stolonifera colors do seem to vary across large distances, which suggests that the species retains enough genetic diversity to adapt to local conditions.  This patch in 069b sports a clean pink with a darkish eye.

2016 ArcheWild - Phlox stolonifera 069b habitat

2016 ArcheWild – Phlox stolonifera 069b habitat

For example, in the southern Appalachians – EcoRegion 066g Southern Metasedimentary Mountains – there is a patch growing in a riparian area that sports a rich, deep blue/purple color.  Still Phlox stolonifera, but a very different part of the country, very different habitat, and very different color.  The picture below does not do justice to the amazing color of this population.

2016 ArcheWild - Phlox stolonifera 066g habitat

2016 ArcheWild – Phlox stolonifera 066g habitat

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