Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Phacelia distans, Distant Phacelia

Scientific Name: Phacelia distans
Common Name: Distant Phacelia
Also Called: Caterpillar Phacelia, Caterpillar Weed, Distant Scorpion-weed and Wild Heliotrope.
Family: Hydrophyllaceae (Boraginaceae, Hydrophylloideae), the Waterleaf Family
Synonyms: (Phacelia cinerea, Phacelia distans var. australis)
Status: Native
Duration: Annual, perennial;
Size: Clambering to 2½ feet or more.
Growth Form: Forb/herb; decumbent, erect, stiff glandular hair.
Leaves: Green; leaf shape highly variable, bipinnate or pinnatifid, plants with few large leaflets others with several small leaflets.
Flower Color: Blue, bright blue; flowers small, attractive, corolla funnel- or bell-shaped, whitish to blue, fruit a capsule.
Flowering Season: February to May; March to May in California.
Elevation: 1,000 to 4,000 feet.
Habitat Preferences: Common under and in bushes for support, along washes, foothills and slopes, clay or rocky soils. California; North Coast Ranges, Sacramento Valley, San Joaquin Valley, Central Western California, Southwestern California and East of Sierra Nevada.
Recorded Range: In the United States Phacelia distans is native to the southwest in; AZ, CA and NV. Introduced in WI and MA. Also native to Baja California and northern Mexico. In Arizona it is found throughout most of the state above 3,500 feet, few records in the northeast part of the state.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.

Wetland Indicator: In North America Phacelia distans has the following wetland designations; Arid West, OBL; Northcentral & Northeast, UPL; Western Mountains, Valleys, and Coast, OBL.
OBL = Obligate Wetland, almost always occur in wetlands;
UPL = Obligate Upland, almost never occur in wetlands.

Threatened/Endangered Information: No information available.

Genus Information: Over 150 species in Phacelia in the United States and all of North America and northern Mexico. An additional 20 or so species are native to South America. The genus Phacelia collectively are commonly referred to as; Phacelia, Scorpionweed, Heliotrope.

The Plant List includes 186 scientific plant names of species rank for the genus Phacelia. Of these 184 are accepted species names.

Comments:Distant Phacelia is superficially similar to Blue Fiestaflower, Pholistoma auritum, and Dainty Desert Hideseed, Eucrypta micrantha.

Kawaiisu Food (Vegetable) Leaves steam cooked and eaten as greens. See ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see Desert Bluebells, Phacelia campanularia; Cleftleaf Wildheliotrope, Phacelia crenulata; Varileaf Phacelia, Phacelia heterophylla; Kaweah River Scorpion-weed, Phacelia magellanica and Lacy Phacelia, Phacelia tanacetifolia.

Date Profile Completed: 10/05/2105, updated 02/27/2017
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 10/03/2015).
1993, The Jepson Manual, Citation: (accessed 10/05/2105),4587,4621
SEINet for synonyms, scientific names, recorded geographic locations and general information
Wisconsin State Herbarium,
Consortium of Wisconsin Herbaria: WisFlora. 2015. Accessed on October 07.