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.
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