In 2010, I came across seeds for sale of Phacelia purshii, an annual native to Ontario and much of the eastern United States. Since it has showy flowers noted for their distinctively fringed petals, I decided to try to cultivate it and purchased a packet of seeds. Based on the foliage alone, I quickly realized that the seeds were not Phacelia purshii. Upon flowering, the plants keyed out to Phacelia divaricata, a very different species native only to eastern California, from the Klamath ranges, south to the San Francisco Bay region and the inner south coastal ranges.
Seeds germinated readily, the seedlings grew very rapidly, and they quickly flowered. Just as quickly, however, the plants set seeds and died. However, during the several weeks that they were in flower, the plants produced attractive masses of lavender-blue flowers with pale, almost white centers. The petals were marked with translucent patches of tissue and this was unlike anything that I had ever seen in any flower. These translucent patches can clearly be seen in the above image of the flowers.
|Young seedlings of Phacelia divaricata.|
I have never seen seeds of Phacelia divaricata for sale under that name and I assume that, like so many native plants, it's charms are overlooked because it does not originate from some far-off exotic land.