caterpillar weed, more...
[Phacelia coerulea Greene [orthographic variant], more]
Plant: Annual forb to 40 cm; herbage glandular, with stiff hairs Leaves: leaves alternate, entire to bipinnate, larger leaves basal Flowers: inflorescences helicoid (curled at the tip like a scorpion's tail); corolla tubular, light blue, stamens and styles exerted 2 mm or more Fruit: a capsule; ventral surface of seed divided by a prominent ridge, corrugated on one side.
Kearney and Peebles 1969, McDougall 1973,Welsh et al. 1993, Martin and Hutchins 1980, Allred and Ivey 2012
Duration: Annual Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Delicate annual herbs, 5-60 cm tall, from a slender taproot; stems with slender, erect, brittle stems which break easily when picked up; stems simple or freely branching throughout, covered with stiff gland-tipped hairs as well as non-glandular hairs. Leaves: Alternate along the stems, sometimes also in a basal cluster; basal and stem leaves on slender petioles, 1-5 cm long; blades oblong to ovate in outline, 2-8 cm long, the edges deeply sinuate to pinnatifid with broadly rounded lobes; leaf surfaces strigose and glandular. Flowers: Violet-blue or white, borne in scorpioid (curling) racemes at the tips of branches; sepals 5, oblanceolate to spatulate, 2-4 mm long, slightly to not exceeding the capsule, glandular-hispid; corollas campanulate and 5-lobed, 3-4 mm long, pale muave to blue and drying white, with a yellow tube; stamens included within the corolla or slightly exserted less than 2 mm. Fruits: Capsules round-ovoid, 3-4 mm long; containing 1-4 boat-shaped seeds which are rough to the touch and transversely corrugate on the keel or margins or both. Ecology: Found in sandy or gravelly soils, on rocky slopes among creosote and other warm desert shrub communities, from 2,000-5,000 ft (610-1524 m); flowers March-June. Distribution: s CA, s NV, s UT, AZ, NM, s TX; south to n MEX. Notes: Positive field identification of Phacelia is quite difficult as species delimitations usually rely on seed morphology. This species is most similar to P. crenulata but distinguished by the petiolate stem leaves with rounded lobes that divide the leaf not more than halfway to the midrib, and stamens included within or only slightly exserted from the corolla (P. crenulata has lower leaves lobed almost to the midrib, upper leaves that are sessile, and stamens exserted 3-10 mm out of the corolla). Look also for the scorpiod inflorescence; the bell-shaped lavender flowers; calyx lobes broad and pointed and little or not surpassing the fruit; seeds corrugated with ridges on the margins of the excavated side; and stems that are brittle and break easily when picked up. Usually found in rocky sites with flowers that are generally much smaller than other Phacelia spp. This species has been published as P. caerulea and as P. coerulea; Tropicos and ITIS recognize the P. coerulea spelling but the Flora Neomexicana (Allred and Ivey 2012) uses P. caerulea. The genus Phacelia has at different times been placed in Hyrophyllaceae (the water-leaf family) and Boraginaceae (the borage family), so you may need to check both families before finding it in reference books and herbarium cabinets. Ethnobotany: Unknown, but other species in the genus are boiled and eaten as greens. Etymology: Phacelia is based on the Greek phakelos, meaning "cluster," alluding to the densely crowded flower spikes of most species of the genus; coerulea means blue, referring to the flower color. Synonyms: Phacelia caerulea Editor: LCrumbacher 2011, FSCoburn 2015, AHazelton 2017