Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
During some years, Hood's phlox blooms as early as the second week of April. The range of this plant does not extend much farther east than Stutsman County, North Dakota but the species can be found westward to California and southward to central Colorado, at elevations up to 9,000 ft.
Look for mats of this little perennial around the bases of rocks in high dry places in native pastures that are heavily or moderately grazed. Because of its tiny needle-like leaves and cushiony appearance, Hood's phlox may be confused with moss until the flowers appear. The plant is less than two inches tall. Each plant produces dozens of five-petaled white or light bluish-lavender flowers that are about a half-inch across.
There is little forage value to this plant, but other members of the genus Phlox are annuals that have some economic value as cultivated ornamentals. The seeds of many members of the phlox family (Polemoniaceae) are of interest because they bear a mucilaginous coating that emits spiral threads when wetted.
Of doubtful significance, the name of the phlox family is from the Greek polemos for "war" or "strife". The generic name Phlox stems from the Greek word for "flame" in reference to the brightly colored flowers of some species.
The renowned Scottish botanist Sir John Richardson (1787-1865) named Hood's phlox in 1823, likely in honor of the British admiral of the period, because Richardson was aboard the admiral's ship during the famous Franklin expedition to arctic America.
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