Phacelia sericea, commonly known as Silky Phacelia or Silky Scorpionweed, is a species of flowering plant in the family Boraginaceae. It is native to North America and is found in various western regions of Canada, the United States and northern Mexico.
Scorpionweed is an herbaceous annual or short-lived perennial plant. It grows to a height of about 30 to 60 cm (12 to 24 inches). The plant has alternate, deeply lobed leaves that are covered in fine silky hairs, giving it a distinct appearance. The flowers of Scorpionweed are bell-shaped, though folks mostly notice the cool spikes sticking out, not the flower’s shape. They vary in colour from pale blue to lavender or purple. They are arranged in coiled clusters along the stem, somewhat resembling a scorpion’s tail. This is how the common name “Silky Scorpionweed” was derived. The flowers are attractive to pollinators, especially bees and butterflies. They’re out from the end of May to the end of August.
Where to find them
Scorpionweed is a subalpine to alpine species of open well-drained slopes, usually above 1,500 m elevation. It’s native to the western United States, including states such as California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona, as well as parts of northern Mexico. In Canada, it’s mostly limited to Alberta and BC. However, it doesn’t grow much farther north than K-Country. It is commonly found in open, rocky areas, grasslands, and foothills. Scorpionweed prefers disturbed or dry habitats. It covers the upper slopes of the Mt. Lipsett trail, but you can even find it in the rocky dry soils near Spray Lake.
Scorpionweed is often cultivated as an ornamental plant for its attractive foliage and unique coiled flower clusters. It can be used in wildflower gardens, xeriscaping projects, and native plant landscapes.
See more of the pretty flowers on K-Country here.