Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Polemoniaceae, Jacob’s Ladder or Phlox Family

The Polemoniaceae or Phlox family is a relatively small family with about 30 plant genera approximately 450 species. The largest genus in the family is Phlox with over 80 recognized species (72 in North America). Other large North American genera include Linanthus and Gilia each with over 40 species.

Species are typically native north of the equator in temperate and artic climates and south of the equator in South America. North America has the greatest diversity of species particularly in the far southwest. North American species are perennial or annual herbs/forbs and subshrubs, rarely woody. Leaves are alternate or opposite and usually simple.

Common family characteristics include 5 united petals and 5 united sepals (funnel shaped) and 5 stamen alternating with the lobes of the corolla. Most species have 3 narrow stigma and fruits are capsules.

Important species are those sold as popular ornamentals and include Scarlet Gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata ) and several species of Phlox and Polemonium. The national flower of Bolivia and Peru is the Kantuta (Cantua buxifolia).

  • Aliciella latifolia, Broad-leaf Gily-flower
  • Eriastrum diffusum, Miniature Woollystar
  • Eriastrum eremicum, Desert Woolystar
  • Gilia flavocincta, Lesser Yellowthroat Gilia
  • Gilia sinuata, Rosy Gilia
  • Gilia stellata, Star Gila
  • Ipomopsis aggregata, Skyrocket
  • Ipomopsis longiflora, Flaxflowered Ipomopsis
  • Ipomopsis multiflora, Manyflowered Ipomopsis
  • Ipomopsis tenuituba, Slendertube Skyrocket
  • Leptosiphon aureus, Golden Desert-trumpets
  • Linanthus bigelovii, Bigelow's linanthus
  • Linanthus demissus, Desertsnow
  • Loeseliastrum schottii, Schott's Calico
  • Phlox gracilis, Slender Phlox
  • Phlox speciosa, Showy Phlox
  • Phlox tenuifolia, Santa Catalina Mtn Phlox
  • Date Family Profile Completed: 04/30/2016
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database.
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 04/30/2016).
    "Polemoniaceae". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 30 Apr. 2016
    Wikipedia contributors, 'Polemoniaceae', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 19 March 2016, 16:23 UTC,
    [accessed 30 April 2016]