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


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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.


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