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    Phlox longifolia and Phlox multiflora do have a number of physical characteristics that separate them (see details below), but elevation and flowering time are even easier to notice distinguishing characteristics: P. longifolia is found from about 3,700' to 7,500' and flowers from April to June; P. multiflora is found from 7,000' to 10,700' and flowers from July to August  --  but plants always have ways of their own. Notice that the photographs of P. multiflora were taken May 31.

    "Phlox" is Greek for "flame"; some members of the Phlox genus are hot pinks and reds.

Phlox longifolia
Phlox longifolia (Long-leaf Phlox)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Openings, shrublands. Spring, summer.
Dolores Canyon Overlook Road, May 17, 2004.

The flowers of Phlox longifolia vary from white to pink and purple and are large enough (and the overall plant tall enough at four-to-ten inches) that most hikers notice them immediately. Phlox longifolia is often in small patches on barren

This long-leaved ("longifolia") Phlox blooms for a number of months in various parts of canyon country.

Nathaniel Wyeth collected the first specimen of Phlox longifolia, probably on the return portion of his 1832-1833 first trading trip to the Pacific.  He gave his collection to his friend and eminent botanist, Thomas Nuttall, who named and described this plant in 1834.

Phlox longifolia

Phlox multiflora

Phlox longifolia (Long-leaf Phlox)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Openings, shrublands. Spring, summer.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, April 18, 2007.

Phlox multiflora (Many-flowered Phlox)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Foothills. Openings, shrublands. Spring, summer.
Sanborn Park Road, Uncompahgre National Park, May 31, 2013.

The photographs immediately at left show several physical characteristics that help to distinguish P. longifolia from P. multiflora.

The calyx of P. longiflora has a raised white keel. In the top photograph at left look at the white membrane between the lobes of the green calyx (the striped vase-like structure surrounding the base of the pink floral tube). Also note the hairiness.

Contrast these characteristics with the calyx on Phlox multiflora in the second photograph at left.

Also notice several other distinguishing characteristics: the size of the calyces, the length of the floral tubes protruding from the calyces, and the length of the pointed lobes of the calyces.

There are other characteristics, such as the growth pattern, the height, and the habitat of the two plants that separate them, but a look at the characteristics of the calyx and corolla quickly tells you which species you are looking at.

Phlox longifolia

Phlox longifolia

Phlox longifolia

Phlox longifolia (Long-leaf Phlox)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Openings, shrublands. Spring, summer.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, April 18, 2007.
Robertson Pasture Trail, Abajo Mountains, Utah, May 30, 2006.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, April 21, 2008.

Phlox longifolia
Phlox longifolia (Long-leaf Phlox)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Openings, shrublands. Spring, summer.
Dolores Canyon Overlook Road, May 17, 2004.

Conditions were perfect for Phlox longifolia in the spring of 2004.

Phlox multiflora
Phlox multiflora (Many-flowered Phlox)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Foothills. Openings, shrublands. Spring, summer.
Sanborn Park Road, Uncompahgre National Forest, May 31, 2013.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Phlox multiflora

Range map for Phlox multiflora

Range map for Phlox longifolia