Blue Phacelia, Wild Heliotrope, Scorpionweed

Phacelia distans

Blue Phacelia

Color: Violet Blue to Purple, Whitish

Common Name: Blue Phacelia, Wild Heliotrope, Scorpionweed

Latin Name: Phacelia distans

Range: Sonoran and Mojave deserts of southeastern California to southwestern Utah and south to Arizona and northwestern Mexico.

Habitat: Desert, washes, slopes and roadsides between 1,000 and 4,000 feet.

Flowers: Bell-shaped, pale blue flowers with 5 rounded, united petals, bloom February through June. Flowers are about 1/4 inch wide, in finely haired, terminal coils.

Description: Blue Phacelia is an annual shrub of the Waterleaf Family (Hydrophyllaceae). It often grows up through other shrubs to a height of from one to 3 feet. Green, finely-haired, fern-like leaves and the coiled, scorpion tail arrangement of the flowers are characteristic of this species.

The more than 100 species of Phacelias in the western US are difficult to distinguish one from another except by seed identification. But the pale blue flowers and weak, straggling stems of the Phacelia distans distinguish it from other desert Phacelias.

This species is know by another of other common names, including Wild Heliotrope and Scorpionweed.

Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa


We have an online wildflower field guide that is designed to help you identify desert wildflowers by color, scientific name, region and common name. The pictures are sized to work on the iPod, iPhone, iPad and similar devices. With your iPod or phone you will easily be able to identify wildflowers while in the desert. Links for downloads are on the bottom of the Wildflower Field Guide page.

Photo tips: Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a macro function - usually symbolized by the icon of a little flower. When you turn on that function, you allow your camera to get closer to the subject, looking into a flower for example. Or getting up close and personal with a bug. More on desert photography.

Mojave Desert Wildflowers - This book is the standard by which all other wildflower books are measured. The author, Jon Mark Stewart, has combined super photography with concise information. This book has an entire color page for each wildflower covered, with a discussion of the wildflower. 210 pages with 200 color photos. More...

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