Flowers - Ground or Moss Pink
( Originally Published 1916 )
(Phlox subulata) Phlox family
Flowers—Very numerous, small, deep purplish pink, lavender or rose, varying to white, with a darker eye, growing in simple cymes, or solitary in a Western variety. Calyx with 5 slender teeth ; corolla salver-form with 5 spreading lobes ; 5 stamens inserted on corolla tube; style 3-lobed. Stems: Rarely exceeding 6 in. in height, tufted like mats, much branched, plentifully set with awlshaped, evergreen leaves barely 1/2 in. long, growing in tufts at joints of stem.
Preferred Habitat—Rocky ground, hillsides.
Distribution—Southern New York to Florida, westward to Michigan and Kentucky.
A charming little plant, growing in dense evergreen mats with which Nature carpets dry, sandy, and rocky hillsides, is often completely hidden beneath its wealth of flowers. Far beyond its natural range, as well as within it, the moss pink glows in gar-dens, cemeteries, and parks, wherever there are rocks to conceal or sterile wastes to beautify. Very slight encouragement induces it to run wild. There are great rocks in Central Park, New York, worth travelling miles to see in early May, when their stern faces are flushed and smiling with these blossoms.
Another low ground species is the Crawling Phlox'(P. reptans). It rarely exceeds six inches in height ; nevertheless its larger pink, purple, or white flowers, clustered after the manner of the tall garden phloxes, are among the most showy to be found in the spring woods. A number of sterile shoots with obovate leaves, tapering toward the base, rise from the runners and set off the brilliant blossoms among their neat foliage. From Pennsylvania southward and westward is its range, especially in mountainous regions ; but this plant, too, was long ago trans-planted from Nature's gardens into man's.
Large patches of the Downy Phlox (P. pilosa) brighten dry prairie land with its pinkish blossoms in late spring. Britton and Brown's botany gives its range as " Ontario to Manitoba, New jersey, Florida, Arkansas, and Texas." The plant does its best to attain a height of two feet ; usually its flowers are much nearer the ground. Butterflies, the principal visitors of most phloxes, although long-tongued bees and even flies can sip their nectar, are ever seen hovering above them and transfering pollen, although in this species the style is so short pollen must often fall into the tube and self-fertilize the stigma. To protect the flowers from useless crawling visitors, the calices are coated with sticky matter, and the stems are downy.