Plant of the day: divaricate phacelia

Spotting a phacelia always makes me want to break into song: oh Phacelia, you’re breakin’ my heart… you’re shaking my confidence daily. I love these little members of the waterleaf family; often they have caterpillar-like, curlicue inflorescences that slowly unfurl as the blooms mature.

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Divaricate phacelia doesn’t curl like some in the genus do, but it’s a very pretty little flower. Five-petalled blue blossoms grow in small clumps atop soft green stems. Though not particularly common in Marin,  it can be abundant in patches like one I stumbled into on a serpentine outcrop on Mount Tam. It also can put on showy displays after a fire burns through chaparral, according to the Marin Flora.

This flowers’ blossoms are as pretty as its names are dull: it’s dubbed either annual blue phacelia or divaricate phacelia (a not-so-inventive inversion of the scientific name  Phacelia divaricata).

It is only found in central California.

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