Blue Phlox (Wild Sweet William)

Polemoniaceae (phloxes)

A perennial herb with lance-shaped, evergreen leaves and showy, rounded clusters of (usually) lavender flowers. Flowers tubular with 5 lobes, the lobes spreading, somewhat heart-shaped, with or without fine notches, in varying colors: pale blue-purple, red-purple, rose-lavender, rarely white. Blooms April–June. Leaves opposite, lance-shaped, spaced apart, to 2 inches long, finely hairy. Dark green, leafy shoots spread from base, take root, and persist through the winter.

Height: to 1 foot.
Habitat and conservation: 
Occurs in rich or rocky soils in open woods, thickets, wet streamsides, bottomlands, usually in partial or full shade, but sometimes in full sun. A native to much of the eastern United States, blue phlox is also found in cultivation, and some forms have been created just for gardening.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Statewide, except for the southeast lowlands.
Human connections: 
Blue phlox does well in wildflower gardens, thriving in shade or part-shade, in rich soils. Be sure you get your plants from an ethical native-plant nursery; don't dig them from the wild.
Ecosystem connections: 
Butterflies are attracted to this species of phlox, and several animals eat the plant, as well.