Friday, May 8, 2015

Longleaf Phlox - Okanagan Wildflower

Phlox longifolia, Okanagan wildflower among grass and wild sage
I am only now appreciating the local wildflowers, after years of taking them for granted.  Now, I search native plant websites for online seed sales and scour the mountainsides for seedheads.  If you want to be truly water-wise, the plants that grow wild here in the dry Okanagan are a good bet.  They're beautiful too! 

While some may call them weeds, several of the wildflowers are still pretty closely related to the ones in our garden centers.  The phlox family contains several favourites, including the low-growing rock garden Moss/Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata) and the late summer-blooming Garden/Fall Phlox (Phlox paniculata).  August in a great perennial garden is the time to appreciate Phlox paniculata.  I know I fell in love with them when I saw the lovely display at Linden Gardens in nearby Kaleden a few years ago. 

Phlox subulata from my Saskatchewan garden
The delicate sprays of the wild pale pink Longleaf phlox growing on the wild grass and sage-covered hills across the street are about 6-10" inches tall and have fine needle-thin leaves.  These thin leaves are a drought-resistance mechanism, featured commonly on many desert plants.  They have lax stems that lean over and look wind-blown.  The flowers are apparently sweetly-scented but the surrounding cacti make it difficult to check this out thoroughly.

A university of Michigan database includes a history of the use an infusion of this plant by Okanagan native peoples for anemia in children. 

If you want to try to grow the Longleaf Phlox from seed, it needs to be germinated at cool temperatures (7°C and in the dark, according to this research from the Native Plants Journal).  Maybe I need to get the cold storage room doing something other than storing canned fruit. 

No comments:

Post a Comment