Common Name: Summer Phlox.
Scientific Name: Phlox Paniculata.
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.
Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? Literally stumbled across Summer Phlox while looking into the woodlands of the forest preserve off Reckinger Road and saw this lovely wildflower growing up through all of the fallen trees.
How big are they? 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.
Where do they grow and thrive? 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.
When do they bloom? Summer Phlox blooms during mid- to late summer and lasts about two (2) months.
Do birds, insects or other wildlife associate with this plant? The nectar of the flowers attracts butterflies, skippers, and moths, including Hummingbird Clearwing moths. Other insects do not have long enough mouthparts to extract the nectar from the base of the corolla. Some animals occasionally eat the foliage of this and other Phlox species, including deer, rabbits, and livestock.
Interesting Facts About the Summer Phlox:
The genus name Paniculata is derived from the Greek word phlox meaning flame in reference to the intense flower colors of some varieties.
Specific epithet refers to the plant bearing flowers in panicles.
Other common names include Autumn Phlox, Cross-leaved Phlox, Fall Phlox, Garden Phlox, Perennial Phlox, and Tall Phlox.
For more information on the Summer Phlox and sources of information used in this blog (these are several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Illinois Wildflowers, Minnesota Wildflowers, Missouri Botanical Garden, University of Texas Wildflower Center and North Carolina Cooperative Extension Plant Tool Box.
The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.
Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!