Dec. 22, 2018

Allegheny phlox, Phlox ovata

What's this? When I first saw it here in Lenawee, I knew it was wild sweet William, Phlox maculata. One had been collected in Lenawee in the 1940s, and I had suspected it was still lurking around, if only I looked long enough. I knew when I collected the specimen I was adding a new dot to the distribution map in Michigan Flora. It's always fun to do that. I now know that I didn't know any of that. I still don't know for sure what to call this. Allegheny, mountain, or wideflower phlox? It goes by them all. Phlox latifolia or Phlox ovata? It depends on which authority you want to use. And that earlier specimen? It might have been this too. Between the time I examined it around 1980, and when I went back to check again, bugs had gotten to that collection. Nothing was left. The original collector had identified it as Phlox paniculata, which was definitely not correct. I "corrected" it to P. maculata! But now, thanks to my own corrected collection, Phlox ovata is in the Michigan Flora identification keys, and the next collector has a good chance to get it right. I now know I was having fun adding a new map to the distribution keys. Can you have fun retroactively? These plants, whatever they're called, occur in AL, GA, IN(E), KY, MA, MD(X), MI(E), MS, NC, OH(E), PA(E), SC, TN, VA, and WV. Kitty Todd Preserve, Lucas Co OH, 5/29/16.