Phlox stolonifera

Creeping phlox

Elizabeth Tyler
University of Georgia

Authorities: First named by Sims. Recent taxonomy on the family Polemoniaceae by Grant.

Photograph courtesy of Univ. of Georgia Herbarium. Copyright Dept. of Botany, Univ. of Georgia, Athens. All rights reserved.



Kindom: Plantae
Division: Embryophyta
Subdivision: Phanaerogama
Branch: Angiospermae
Class: Dicotyledonea
Order: Polemoniales
Family: Polemoniaceae
Subfamily: Polemonioidea
Tribe: Polemoniacea
Genus: Phlox
Species: stolonifera

Geography and Distribution

Phlox stolonifera is native to the rich, damp woods of the Appalachian Mountains and the Piedmont. It is found throughout the United States and in Southern parts of Canada, but is most prevalant in the Eastern United States.


The family Polemoniaceae is distinguished from other dicots by a three-carpellary ovary.
Other characteristics include:

Characteristics of Phlox:

Features of stolonifera:

Type specimens: A plate and description by Sims of a clone collected in Georgia in 1786 by John Fraser. I could not find its current location.

See Picture 1 and Picture 2

Natural History and Ecological Requirements

Phlox stolonifera requires shade to light sun and a slightly acidic soil (pH 5.5 to 7). They are heavy feeders, therefore they thrive in woodland areas with moist soil rich in organic matter. They grow 8 to 18 inches high and 8 to 12 inches wide. Five cultivars of Phlox stolonifera are described here.

Seasonal Activity: Phlox stolonifera blooms in early spring to early summer. They are mostly violet and give off a honeysuckle-like fragrance.

Pollination: This flower is a cross-fertilizing perennial herb with salverform flowers that are pollinated by Lepidoptera (butterflies). The stamen is on the lower side of a broad corolla throat and nectar is concealed in a short tube below the throat. The salverform corolla has a long, slender nectar tube and a sweet fragrance.


Bailey, Liberty Hyde and Ethel Zoe Bailey, Hortus Third. Macmillan Publishing Company, Inc., New York, 1976.

Everett, Thomas, The New York Botanical Garden Ilustrated Encyclopedia of Horticulture. Garland Publishing, New York, 1981.

Grant, Verne, "Primary Classification and Phylogeny of the Polemoniaceae, with Comments on Molecular Cladistics." American Journal of Botany. 85: 741-752, 1998.

Grant, Verne, and Karen A. Grant, Pollination in the Phlox Family. Columbia University Press, New York, 1965.

Hickey, Michael and Clive King, 100 Families of Flowering Plants. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1988.

Porter, C.L., Taxonomy of Flowering Plants. Freeman and Company, San Francisco, 1967.

Wherry, Edgar T., The Genus Phlox. Associates of the Morris Arboretum, Pennsylvania, 1955.

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