Name: Long-leaved Phlox
Scientific name: Phlox longifolia
Long-leaved Phlox grows in rocky soil, from low to high elevations, British Columbia to California, and east to Montana to New Mexico. In our own area, it is common in the grasslands along the Columbia and the foothills of the Blue Mountains, and is one of several found locally.
Phlox is from the Greek word for flame, probably a reference to the bright colors of some species. The name longifolia means “long foliage” or “long leaves.” The leaves of this species of phlox make it easy to identify. The leaves are linear, about 2-3 inches long, and about the width of the lead in a number 2 pencil. In the photo, there are a few broader leaves of grass growing up through the plant, and the narrower leaves are those of the phlox.
Most of the phlox species in northeastern Oregon grow in ground-hugging mats an inch or two high. However, the long-leaved phlox grows in bunches 6 to 18 inches high. The flowers are about an inch across, and vary in color from pink to white.
Inland Indian tribes from British Columbia to Arizona to the Rockies had a number of medicinal uses for this plant species. Medicinal preparations varied depending on how the preparation was to be used. Ailments treated included aching muscles, gastrointestinal and stomach aches of children, venereal disease, diarrhea, boils, and for an eye wash.
Where to find: This phlox is blooming in open grassland and sagebrush areas from the Tri-Cities to the Blue Mountain foothills currently, and can be seen along the banks of highway 37 from Holdman to the Columbia. The blooming bunches should be appearing on Cabbage Hill by now and moving upward.