Phacelia is from the Greek, "Phacelus", for "bundle" and refers to the clusters of flower branches. The genus was named by the great 18th-19th century botanist, Antoine Jussieu in his Genera Plantarum of 1789. Click the title.  

All species below are native.

Phacelia bakeri

Phacelia bakeri (Baker's Phacelia)
Hydrophyllaceae (Waterleaf Family)
Synonym: Boraginaceae

Subalpine, alpine.  Rocky openings, talus.  Summer.
Colorado Trail near Stony Pass, July 21, 2011.

This exotic, highly glandular Phacelia is amazingly intricate and ornate with long, exserted filaments and styles and a myriad of glandular hairs. P. bakeri is found from mid-montane elevations to wind-swept tundra.

P. bakeri is quite similar to Phacelia glandulosa below.

Phacelia bakeri was first named Phacelia crenulata by John Torrey in the mid-1800s from a collection made by Sereno Watson; the plant was renamed Phacelia crenulata var. bakeri by Brand in 1913 from a collection made by botanist and entomologist Charles Fuller Baker near Ouray, Colorado in 1901; and finally it was named Phacelia bakeri by J. F. MacBride in 1917. (Click to read more about Charles Baker.)

Click for more photographs of P. bakeri and to read about distinguishing P. bakeri from the very similar P. glandulosa.

Phacelia crenulata
Phacelia crenulata (Notch-leaf Scorpionweed, Crenulated Phacelia)
Hydrophyllaceae (Waterleaf Family)
Synonym: Boraginaceae

Semi-desert.  Canyons, openings, sand.  Spring.
Corona Arch Trail, April 13, 2005.

Phacelia crenulata varies greatly in the size of the plant and the number and size of flowers.  Although Phacelia crenulata is most often 6-14 inches tall, it is commonly 16-24 inches tall.  Flower heads can be quite small or luxuriously large.  Flower clusters are always in a curling scorpion tail formation and this gives rise to the common name "Scorpionweed", a name shared with a number of other species (some are Boraginaceae, some are in other families).  In good spring flowering years, such as 2003, 2005, and 2014, thousands of plants color rocky/sandy flats and slopes in lavender-blue.  

More Phacelia crenulata photographs.

The Latin "Cren" ("notches") and "lat" ("wide") refer to the leaf shape.

Phacelia glandulosa
Phacelia glandulosa variety glandulosa (Glandular Phacelia)
Hydrophyllaceae (Waterleaf Family)
Synonym: Boraginaceae

Foothills, montane.  Rocky slopes, hillsides. Summer.
Below American Basin, July 28, 2007.

This lovely Phacelia is both sticky and strongly scented from numerous glandular hairs, the tiny bulbous-tipped projections that show on stems and calyces in the photograph immediately below. 

           Phacelia glandulosa

Phacelia glandulosa grows to a maximum of fifteen inches tall and typically spreads seven to ten inches wide.  Leaves are deeply cut and are both basal and cauline (along the stem). Phacelia glandulosa enjoys open rocky areas where its colors really stand out. 

Thomas Nuttall collected this species in 1834 in Wyoming "About Ham's Fork of the Colorado of the West" and named and described it in 1848.

Click to read more about P. glandulosa and to learn how to distinguish it from the very similar Phacelia bakeri.

Phacelia howelliana
Phacelia howelliana (Howell's Phacelia)
Hydrophyllaceae (Waterleaf Family)
Synonym: Boraginaceae

Semi-desert.  Shrublands, Pinyon/Juniper woodlands, openings.  Spring.
Near Corona/Bow Tie Arches, Utah, April 17, 2014.

Phacelia howelliana is a rare annual found, as the map below indicates, in just a few counties in the Four Corners region. Corollas are blue purple with a white interior throat. The plant can grow to about 10 inches tall on sands and gravels in the high desert. P. howelliana is separated from other Phacelias by a combination of characteristics: its corolla is campanulate, bicolored, and longer than 4 mm; it has simple, hairy, and glandular leaves; its cauline leaves are petiolate; and its height is less than 12 inches.

Duane Atwood, co-author of A Utah Flora) named this species in 1972 from a specimen he collected just north of Bluff, Utah, in 1970.  John Thomas Howell (1903-1994) was the Curator of Botany of the California Academy of Sciences from 1949 to 1969. (Click for more biographical information about Howell.)

More Phacelia howelliana photographs.

Phacelia integrifolia
Phacelia integrifolia variety integrifolia (Gypsum Phacelia)
Hydrophyllaceae (Waterleaf Family)
Synonym: Boraginaceae

Semi-desert.  Shrublands, grasslands.  Spring.
Sand dunes south of the Hogback, New Mexico, April 24, 2007.

Phacelia integrifolia flowers are a most delicate, porcelain-like violet-pink.  The plant grows four to twenty inches tall and flowers for many weeks.  It typically inhabits dry, sandy soil and dunes.

John Torrey named this species in 1826 from a specimen that Edwin James collected, probably in 1820, on the "banks of the Platte". (Quotation from Intermountain Flora.)

More Phacelia integrifolia photographs.

Phacelia sericea
Phacelia sericea (Silky Phacelia, Purplefringe)
Hydrophyllaceae (Waterleaf Family)
Synonym: Boraginaceae

Subalpine, alpine.  Meadows, openings, tundra.  Summer.
Cross Mountain Trail, July 13, 2005.

Silky Phacelia is a favorite of many wildflower enthusiasts; it is certainly one of my favorites. Flowers are lovely light-to-dark purple with protruding stamens tipped in gold-coated anthers. The plant is usually about ten inches tall but can be eighteen inches. I have even seen it over two feet tall. Phacelia sericea is common in meadows above tree line and on high mountain passes from mid-June through August.

More Phacelia sericea photographs.

Thomas Drummond was the first to collect this lovely plant; he found it in the late 1820s in the northern Rocky Mountains. Graham named the plant Eutoca sericea in 1829 and it was renamed Phacelia sericea by Asa Gray in 1862. "Sericea" is Greek for "silk".

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Questionable presence

Phacelia bakeri

Range map for Phacelia bakeri

Range map for Phacelia crenulata

Range map for Phacelia glandulosa

Phacelia howelliana

Range map for Phacelia howelliana

Range map for Phacelia integrifolia

Range map for Phacelia sericea