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Polemonium viscosum (Sky pilot)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Polemonium viscosum

Polemonium viscosum Nutt.

Sky pilot, Sticky polemonium

Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

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 Jacob’s-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 Jacob’s-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 Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit:
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Blue
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug

Distribution

USA: AZ , CO , ID , MT , NM , NV , OR , UT , WA , 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 Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Description: Rocky, well-drained soils.

Propagation

Description: 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

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter1989 VOL. 6, NO.4 - Spring Climbs Rockies Slowly, Colorado Cooler, Conference of Wildflower and Nati...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Polemonium viscosum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Polemonium viscosum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Polemonium viscosum

Metadata

Record Last Modified: 2007-01-01
Research By: TWC Staff

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