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Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia
Polemonium viscosum Nutt.
Sky pilot, Sticky polemonium
Synonym(s): Polemonium viscosum ssp. genuinum, Polemonium viscosum ssp. lemmonii
USDA Symbol: POVI
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
A leafy plant with stems in clumps has a skunk-like scent from the sticky, glandular hairs that cover leaves and stems; funnel-shaped, blue-violet flowers bloom in loose heads atop stem. Sticky Jacobs-ladder or sky pilot has both grass-like and fern-like leaves, occuring in bright-green, 3-6 in. high tufts. The fern-like leaves are divided into thick segments with whorls of small leaflets. A 4-20 in. flower stalk arises from the leaf tuft and bears a cluster of light blue, or occasionally white, tubular flowers. Attractive stamens with golden-orange anthers project from the throat. Sticky Jacobs-ladder has both skunky and sweet-smelling flowers.
The name Sky Pilot comes from its preferred high habitat. Elegant Polemonium (P. elegans), in the high Cascade Mountains of Washington and British Columbia, has undivided leaflets.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Herb Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Blue
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug
, WY Canada: AB
, BC Native Distribution:
S. B.C. & n.e. WA,
s.e. through the mts. to n. AZ
& NM Native Habitat:
Alpine meadows; open woods near timberline
Growing ConditionsLight Requirement: Sun
Soil Description: Rocky, well-drained soils.
PropagationDescription: Scratch seeds lightly into soil in late summer or early fall.
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: A stratification of 40 degrees for 2-3 months improves germination.
Commercially Avail: yes
Record Last Modified: 2007-01-01
Research By: TWC Staff