Texas trailing phlox
Texas trailing phlox is only known from the Longleaf Pine region of East Texas in Hardin, Polk, and Tyler counties.
As its name indicates, Texas trailing phlox has stems that spread horizontally, then vertically, to form a small shrub 10-30 cm tall. Leaves persist on the woody stems year-round and are more abundant on horizontal stems. Non-flowering stems have grooved, needle-like leaves, and flowering stems have narrowly teardrop shaped leaves. All leaves are spine-tipped, edged with hairs, and 2.5-30 mm long. Flowers usually cluster in small groups of three to six. Flower petals are united into a tube, which flares into five-lobes, each with a single notch. Blooms can vary from pink to bluish to purple to white with a red to purple center. Flowers have a staff-like female structure, which extends 3-4 mm centrally from the flower’s base, but is hidden within the 11-17 mm long floral tube. Fruits are three-chambered, each chamber housing a single seed with an almost imperceptibly wrinkled surface.
The combination of its trailing nature, woody stems, and needle-like leaves distinguish Texas trailing phlox from all other phlox in the state. However, when spreading pygmyleaf (Loeflingia squarrosa ssp. squarrosa) has no flowers, it can look like Texas trailing phlox. But spreading pygmyleaf is somewhat fleshy, typically shorter (1-12 cm tall), and has shorter (0.4-5.5 mm) leaves, which fuse together in clumps at their bases.
Texas trailing phlox occurs on deep, sandy soils overlaying clays in open, fire-maintained pine or hardwood-pine plant communities.
Life Cycle Events
Flowering occurs from March to May.
Although Texas trailing phlox can be found year-round, it is most visible while in bloom from March to May.