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Phacelia congesta (Caterpillars)
Leander, Bruce

Phacelia congesta

Phacelia congesta Hook.

Caterpillars, Blue Curls, Fiddleneck

Hydrophyllaceae (Waterleaf Family)

Synonym(s): Phacelia congesta var. dissecta

USDA Symbol: phco2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Caterpillars or blue curls is a leafy annual or biennial which grows 1-3 ft. tall. Its purple to lavender-blue, bell-shaped flowers, deeply lobed at the rim, have conspicuously protruding stamens. The flowers are numerous, in slender, coiled clusters which uncurl as the buds develop. Leaves are soft and deeply cut, appearing ragged-looking. The plant is usually found in large colonies.


From the Image Gallery

72 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Annual , Biennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Inflorescence: Compound Cyme , Cyme
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 3 feet tall.
Flower: Petals 5

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Blue , Purple
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May


Native Distribution: W. & n. TX to e. AZ & n. Mex.
Native Habitat: Prairie, Plains, Meadows, Pastures, Savannas, Hillsides, Slopes, Woodlands' edge, Opening, Ditches, Ravines, Depressions, Ledges

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Sandy or rocky soils. Gravelly, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Limestone/chalky, Clay, Clay Loam, Medium Loam
Conditions Comments: Blue curls is a leafy annual or biennial. Its purple to lavender-blue, bell-shaped flowers are deeply lobed at the rim. The flowers are numerous, in slender, coiled clusters which uncurl as the buds develop. Leaves are soft and deeply cut, appearing ragged-looking. The plant is usually found in large colonies. Blue curls does best if sheltered from the west sun. Its stem is brittle and breaks easily.


Use Ornamental: Blooms ornamental, Planned landscape
Use Wildlife: Pollen-insects, Flowers-Bees, Nectar- bees, Nectar- butterflies
Attracts: Butterflies
Deer Resistant: High

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: Easy to grow from seed sown in fall.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Order seed of this species from Native American Seed and help support the Wildflower Center.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Native plants for container gardens in Central Texas
March 11, 2008
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: I moved to TX last year, for now living in an apartment with a good-size but shady deck; my garden in VA was full of VA native plants. What TX natives, if any, can I grow in ...
view the full question and answer

From the National Organizations Directory

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

Fredericksburg Nature Center - Fredericksburg, TX
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Fredericksburg Chapter - Fredericksburg, TX
Texas Master Naturalists - Lost Pines Chapter - Bastrop, TX
Jacob's Well Natural Area - Wimberley, TX
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 0583 Collected May 11, 1990 in Bexar County by Harry Cliffe
NPSOT 0369 Collected May 13, 1993 in Comal County by Mary Beth White
NPSOT 0054 Collected May 4, 1990 in Bexar County by Lottie Millsaps
NPSOT 1097 Collected Apr. 23, 1997 in Bexar County by Harry Cliffe
NPSOT 0004 Collected April 15,1990 in Bexar County by Judith C. Berry

5 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-642 Collected 2008-05-27 in Travis County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank


Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 281 - Shinners & Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas (1999) Diggs, G. M.; B. L. Lipscomb; B. O'Kennon; W. F...
Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender
Bibref 328 - Wildflowers of Texas (2003) Ajilvsgi, Geyata.
Bibref 286 - Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country (1989) Enquist, M.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2021-06-23
Research By: NPC

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