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  • Writer's pictureTerry Wise

Phlox Bringing Beauty to Floor of Fallen Trees

Out for daily walk along edge of the forest preserve near Carillon Stonegate Pond.

Caught something out of place as I glanced into the woodlands. These woodlands are in a wetland and have dozens of fallen trees due to storms over the years.

Typically, it is dark with spots of sunlight breaking through on a sunny day. But something caught my eye. Something lavender. It was a Summer Phlox popping up between some fallen tree branches. A lovely bouquet of lavender flowers set against the dark browns of the woodlands.

Summer Phlox generally grows to approximately three (3) feet tall. The oval leaves are up to six (6) inches long and one (1) inch wide. The flowers are nearly one (1) inch across.

What to look for? Bouquet of lavender flowers sitting atop a tall stem. Summer Phlox is a tall, perennial plant. The central stem is light green, round, and usually unbranched, except near the apex where the flowers occur. The leaves are long, oval, and opposite. The central stem and a few secondary stems near the apex of the plant terminate in a gently rounded panicles of flowers. The individual flowers can occur in a variety of colors, including bright rosy pink, lavender, and white. Each flower has a long tubular corolla with five (5) spreading, overlapping petals. The flowers are quite fragrant. The small, oval seed capsules contain several small seeds. The root system consists of a taproot. Small clumps of plants are often formed.

Summer Phlox is native to the eastern U.S. and has been observed in most counties of Illinois. While this plant is widely distributed here and there, it is rather uncommon in natural habitats, occurring as isolated clumps of plants. Summer Phlox may be found in openings in moist woodlands, woodland borders, thickets, meadows, and semi-shaded areas along rivers and ponds.

Other common names include Autumn Phlox, Cross-leaved Phlox, Fall Phlox, Garden Phlox, Perennial Phlox, and Tall Phlox.

All of the seasons are full of surprises around Carillon Stonegate Pond. Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!

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