Lacy Phacelia

Phacelia tanacetifolia

Phacelia tanacetifolia

Color: Blue to purple

Common name: Lacy Phacelia

Latin name: Phacelia tanacetifolia

Family: BORAGINACEAE

Height: 6–40 inches

Description: Phacelia tanacetifolia is an annual herb which grows erect to a maximum height near 100 centimeters. The wild form is glandular and coated in stiff hairs which cause dermatitis when touched. The very hairy inflorescence is a one-sided curving or coiling cyme of bell-shaped flowers in shades of blue and lavender. Each flower is just under a centimeter long and has protruding whiskery stamens.

Leaf: The leaves are mostly divided into smaller leaflets deeply and intricately cut into toothed lobes, giving them a lacy appearance.

Range: Mojave Desert, s Outer North Coast Ranges, c&s Sierra Nevada Foothills, Tehachapi Mountain Area, s Sacramento Valley (Sutter Buttes), San Joaquin Valley, e San Francisco Bay Area, South Coast Ranges, Southwestern California (except Channel Islands).

Habitat: Sandy to gravelly slopes, open areas

Elevation: < 2000 m.

Flowering time: Mar–May

Notes: Phacelia tanacetifolia was originally native to the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico but it is now used in many places in agriculture as a cover crop, a bee plant, an attractant for other beneficial insects, and an ornamental plant. It is planted in vineyards and alongside crop fields, where it is valued for its long, coiling inflorescences of nectar-rich flowers which open in sequence, giving a long flowering period. It is a good insectary plant, attracting pollinators such as honey bees. The seeds are "negatively photoblastic", or photodormant, and will only germinate in darkness. This photo was taken on April 12, 2008 in Red Rock Canyon State Park, Kern County, California.

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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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