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Phacelia bipinnatifida (Fernleaf phacelia)
Cressler, Alan

Phacelia bipinnatifida

Phacelia bipinnatifida Michx.

Fernleaf Phacelia, Fernleaf Scorpion Weed, Spotted Phacelia, Loose-flowered Phacelia

Hydrophyllaceae (Waterleaf Family)

Synonym(s): Phacelia bipinnatifida var. plummeri, Phacelia brevistyla

USDA Symbol: PHBI2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Fern-leaf Scorpion-weed or Phacelia is a 1-2 ft. biennial with a loose, open-branched habit and large, light-green leaves divided into five deeply lobed segments. The numerous round, lavender-blue flowers are about 1 in. in diameter and occur in elongate inflorescences.


From the Image Gallery

13 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Biennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Pubescence: Puberulent
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: 1 to 2 feet tall.
Flower: Flowers 1/2 inch.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Blue , Purple , Violet
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun
Bloom Notes: Color usually described as violet-blue. A biennial that blooms early to mid-spring of its second year.


USA: AL , AR , GA , IA , IL , IN , KY , MD , MO , MS , NC , OH , PA , SC , TN , VA , WV
Native Distribution: VA to IN & MO, s. to GA mts. & AR
Native Habitat: Cool, rich, moist woods; Blue Ridge Mountains; Zones 5 to 8

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Loose, moist, acid, sometimes rocky soils. Tolerates lime.


Use Ornamental: Good for delicate spring color in the shade.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: This phacelia propagates readily from seed. Because it self-sows so freely, its often easiest to bypass seed collection and simply transplant the self-sown seedlings.
Seed Collection: Since this phacelia begins flowering at the bottom of the stalk and progesses upward, seeds will mature first in the basal fruits. Seeds in the upper capsules are generally ready to collect when the lower capsules have split. Cleaned seeds should be stored dry in sealed, refrigerated containers.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Because it self-sows vigorously and is short-lived, dying soon after it blooms in its second year, Phacelia bipinnatifida should be allowed plenty of room in a naturalistic, woodland setting to move around as it wishes. If you want to maintain it in precise spots, transplant seedlings in the fall to preferred locations.

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2023-04-05
Research By: TWC Staff

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