Phlox Family – Polemoniaceae

The Phlox family of 25 genera and 250 species is found mainly in North America with one genus Polemonium found in Europe and two in Asia. The family includes the native wild flower Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium caeruleum), the annual Phlox drummondii and the perennials P. paniculata (flowers in a panicle) and P. maculata and their cultivars. The word Phlox is derived from the Greek phlox for ‘flame’, referring to the bright colours of the flowers. Inflorescences are in the form of panicles. Flowers in this family typically have 5 petals, 5 stamens and a long style with a 3 branched stigma. 


Phlox ‘Mount Fuji’ Phlox paniculata ‘Mount Fuji’ is a popular garden plant

Phlox ‘Mount Fuji’ flowers are arranged in a panicle 

The flowers are pollinated mainly by butterflies attempting to reach the nectar secreted at the base of the narrow corolla tube

Perennial Phlox Phlox paniculata is a wild flower species, native to North America. Its flowers may be white, pink, red, or purple, from which over 30 cultivars have been produced after being introduced to Britain in the 18th century. 

Phlox Purple-eye Flame  is another cultivar of Phlox paniculata 

Phlox ‘Natascha’ Phlox maculata ‘Natascha’ is a cultivar derived from a wild flower native to the Eastern United States. This species has flowers in long columns as opposed to the panicles of the species P. paniculata

Jacob’s Ladder Polemonium caeruleum. This species is native to Britain but is also grown in gardens. It flowers in June and July and is found in the hills and mountain areas of Britain.

 A number of attractive varieties of Jacob’s Ladder are popular in gardens. The variety ‘White Pearl’ is shown here. The flower is bell-shaped (unlike the Phlox) and the 3-lobed stigma projects beyond the stamens.