Polemoniaceae: Phlox Family — Collomia, Eriastrum and Microsteris

Large-flowered Collomia – Collomia grandiflora

Blooms:

Apr–July

Plant Height:

10–90 cm

Flower Size:

Medium cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Dry open or wooded slopes

Notes:

This is a comparatively tall plant with a reddish stem which is sometimes leafy and sometimes branching. Cauline leaves are lanceolate to linear. The inflorescence is a cluster of tubular flowers, 8–15 mm long with lobes about 10–15 mm across. Flowers are described in the books as yellow to orange fading to white but many appear more apricot to pinkish in color.  Pollen is blue.

Variable-leaved Collomia – Collomia heterophylla

Blooms:

Apr–June

Plant Height:

5–20 cm

Flower Size:

Small-medium

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Shady places in chaparral and open woodland

Notes:

This is a low growing and spreading plant. Its flowers are less than half the size of those of Large-flowered Collomia (Collomia grandiflora), about 10–15 mm long and about 5 mm across. They have a yellow to light pink (occasionally dark pink-purple) tube, a yellow to white throat and a light pink to white corolla. Leaves are glandular-hairy, the lower leaves pinnate or bipinnately lobed and the upper lobed or entire.

Wand Woollystar / Virgate Eriastrum – Eriastrum virgatum

Blooms:

May–July

Plant Height:

3–40 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Rare or Endangered?

Yes – 4.3

Habitat:

Sandy places, coastal and inland

Notes:

This is a low growing and sometimes loosely-spreading annual which is endemic to Monterey and San Benito counties. The bright blue funnel-shaped flowers with a yellow tube and throat are distinctive. The common name is a straight translation of the Latin, virgate meaning wand-like and woollystar referring to the woolly bracts in the inflorescence.

Pretty Blue Woollystar – Eriastrum calocyanum

Blooms:

May–July

Plant Height:

4–25 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Inner Coast Ranges above 400 m

Notes:

This delicate eriastrum has small light to dark blue funnel-shaped flowers, often with a reddish or purple spot at the base of the lobes. The flower tube is white, cream or yellow. The corolla is 7–10 mm across with stamens that barely, if at all, extend beyond the sinuses (i.e. the base of the lobes). This is found only in the southeastern parts of the county.

Note: Matthews and Mitchell’s The Plants of Monterey County includes this as E. wilcoxii * (Coast Range Eriastrum)

Perennial Woollystar – Eriastrum densifolium subsp. elongatum

Blooms:

June–Sept

Plant Height:

20–30 cm

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Dry places, inland

Notes:

This eriastrum is uncommon in Monterey County. As the common name suggests, the plant is perennial with a woody base with a distinctive erect to spreading growth habit.  The flowers are bright blue or lavender, sometimes with darker veins.  The corolla is up to 20 mm long, narrowly funnel-shaped and with a white or yellow throat.  The lobes are about 7 m long.  The plant is canescent to woolly.  These plants were seen on the Pine Ridge Trail near Chew’s Ridge

Slender Phlox – Microsteris gracilis

Blooms:

Mar–Aug

Plant Height:

< 20 cm

Flower Size:

Very small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Moist or dry, open or grassy places and woods

Notes:

This is a small branching annual with tiny delicate, 5-petaled pink flowers with a white center. The flower tube is 8–12 mm long and the corolla lobes are only 1–2 mm long.  The calyx lobes are broader than the connecting membrane. The leaves are glandular-hairy, lanceolate, opposite at the lower end of the stem and alternate at the upper.