Phlox maculata Stephen M. Young

Phlox maculata
Stephen M. Young

Class
Dicotyledoneae (Dicots)
Family
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)
State Protection
Endangered
Federal Protection
Not Listed
State Conservation Status Rank
S1S2
Global Conservation Status Rank
G5T4T5

Summary

Did you know?

The common name is based on the flower's supposed resemblance to the popular garden flower Sweet-william (Dianthus barbatus), an unrelated species native to Europe. Which "William" it refers to is uncertain, though it may be after the Duke of Cumberland, for his victory over the Scots in the Battle of Culloden. The Scots call the same flower "Stinking Billy" (Wikipedia, accessed 4/25/2008). "Maculata" means spotted, and refers to the purplish blotches on the stems.

State Ranking Justification

There are 8 existing occurrences in the state, and 16 historical occurrences. Half of the verified occurences have 100 plants or less, and some populations appear to be declining.

Short-term Trends

Four "new" populations have been discovered since 1999, which may be either an upward trend or simply an artifact of more survey work. Some populations have declined in recent years, possibly due to mowing, but more data are needed to assess short-term trends across the state.

Long-term Trends

There are at least 16 historical occurrences, and only 7 known existing ones. The species may have declined as open wetland habitats have become more scarce.

Conservation and Management

Threats

Mowing is a threat to some roadside populations; however, succession is also a long-term threat, as this species requires at least partially open habitat.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

Mowing or grazing to maintain open habitats could benefit this species if it were done after the growing season.

Habitat

Habitat

In New York this species has been found at open or shrubby wet sites, including fens, wet meadows, shrub swamps, cattail marshes, and roadside seeps and wet thickets (New York Natural Heritage Program 2008). Low woods, wet meadows, stream banks (Haines 1998). Low woods and wet meadows (Gleason and Cronquist 1991). Very rare and local in fens and other wet places (Voss 1996).

Associated Ecological Communities

Associated Species

  • Angelica atropurpurea (purple-stemmed angelica)
  • Calamagrostis canadensis
  • Carex flava (yellow sedge)
  • Carex interior (inland sedge)
  • Carex sparganioides (bur-reed sedge)
  • Cornus amomum
  • Cornus sericea (red-osier dogwood)
  • Equisetum fluviatile (river horsetail)
  • Geum rivale (purple avens, water avens)
  • Glyceria grandis
  • Holcus lanatus (velvet grass)
  • Juncus spp.
  • Packera aurea (golden ragwort)
  • Platanthera dilatata
  • Polemonium vanbruntiae (Van Brunt's Jacob's-ladder)
  • Solidago rugosa
  • Spiraea alba
  • Viburnum recognitum

Range

New York State Distribution

Wild Sweet-william is found in scattered locations across most areas of the state, except the interior Adirondack Mountains.

Global Distribution

The species is found in Quebec, Ontario, Minnesota, and Iowa, and in all of the states east of the Mississippi excluding Wisconsin, Florida, South Carolina, and New Hampshire.

Best Places to See

  • Sears Pond Northwest (Lewis County)

Identification Comments

General Description

Wild Sweet-william is a perennial wildflower with smooth, erect stems, often with purple spots or streaks, growing up to 80 cm tall. The leaves are in opposite pairs, 5 to 12 cm long, with prominent white midribs, and are lance-shaped, ending in a fine point. The infloresence consists of several branches on short stalks (peduncles), forming a crowded, sub-cylindric cluster. The corolla forms a long, thin tube, separating into 5 wedged-shaped petals, each 12 to 22 mm wide. The flower color ranges from white to more often red-purple (Gleason and Cronquist 1991).

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification

This species is most easily identified when in flower.

Similar Species

Three similar looking Phlox are present in New York: P. divaricata, P. paniculata, and P. pilosa. Phlox divaricata and P. pilosa both have a style which is shorter than or barely equal to the stigma or ovary and the cymes are loose and open, usually the 2 lowest branches are 1 cm or more. Phlox paniculata has veiny leaves with a submarginal connecting vein, and ciliolate leaf margins.

Best Time to See

Wild Sweet-William flowers from mid-June to mid-July.

  • Flowering
  • Fruiting

The time of year you would expect to find Wild Sweet William flowering and fruiting in New York.

Wild Sweet William Images

Taxonomy

Wild Sweet William
Phlox maculata ssp. maculata None

  • Kingdom Plantae
    • Phylum Anthophyta
      • Class Dicotyledoneae (Dicots)
        • Order Solanales
          • Family Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Synonyms

  • Phlox maculata var. candida Michx.

Additional Resources

References

Edinger, Gregory J., D.J. Evans, Shane Gebauer, Timothy G. Howard, David M. Hunt, and Adele M. Olivero (editors). 2002. Ecological Communities of New York State. Second Edition. A revised and expanded edition of Carol Reschke's Ecological Communities of New York State. (Draft for review). New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY. 136 pp.

Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. 8th edition. D. Van Nostrand, New York. 1632 pp.

Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.

Haines, A. and T.F. Vining. 1998. Flora of Maine, A Manual for Identification of Native and Naturalized Vascular Plants of Maine. V.F.Thomas Co., Bar Harbor, Maine.

Holmgren, Noel. 1998. The Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

Mitchell, Richard S. and Gordon C. Tucker. 1997. Revised Checklist of New York State Plants. Contributions to a Flora of New York State. Checklist IV. Bulletin No. 490. New York State Museum. Albany, NY. 400 pp.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2010. Biotics database. New York Natural Heritage Program. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2019. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.

Newcomb, Lawrence. 1977. Newcomb's Wildflower Guide: An Ingenious New Key System for Quick, Positive Field Identification of the Wildflowers, Flowering Shrubs, and Vines of Northeastern and North-Central North America. Little, Brown and Company. Boston.

Voss, Edward G. 1996. Michigan Flora Part III. Dicots Concluded (Pyrolaceae - Compositae). Cranbrook Institute of Science Bulletin 61 and University of Michigan Herbarium. 622 pp.

Weldy, T. and D. Werier. 2010. New York flora atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research http://www.fccdr.usf.edu/. University of South Florida http://www.usf.edu/]. New York Flora Association http://www.nyflora.org/, Albany, New York

Weldy, Troy W. and David Werier. 2005. New York Flora Atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research. University of South Florida]. New York Flora Association, Albany, NY. Available on the web at (http://atlas.nyflora.org/).

Links

About This Guide

Information for this guide was last updated on: May 22, 2008

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2019. Online Conservation Guide for Phlox maculata ssp. maculata. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/wild-sweet-william/. Accessed January 21, 2019.

Back to top