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Caterpillar phacelia

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Caterpillar phacelia
Scientific Classification
  • P. cicutaria var. cicutaria
  • P. cicutaria var. hispida
  • P. cicutaria var. hubbyi

The Caterpillar phacelia is a species of flowering shrub indigenous to California, which is also known as the Caterpillar scorpionweed. It has been assigned to the genus Phacelia and assigned the scientific name Phacelia cicutaria, and includes three sub-species as well. It is a popular ornamental plant due to its flower that begins forming every year during the Springtime with brightly colored petals.[1] [2]

Body Design

Image of the complete body of the plant along wih the flowers

This annual herb grows out to a height of .6-2ft tall. The flowers are about 0.5-3mm and are a unique lavender, cream, and white color. It is believed that the flowering stems that look a bit like caterpillars are the reason it got its name. [3] The spherical fruits formed from this plant are about 3-4 millimeters and are short with little hairs. The seeds are 2-4in while the leaves are 20-150mm. The flower also has 5 bluish stamens that are about half an inch long.[4]

Life Cycle

Caterpillar phacelia is an annual flower that begins blooming in the Spring during the months of March, April, and May. [5] The buds on these flowers are so tight and begin opening up into flowers one by one. The reason its named Caterpillar is because the stems formed look like caterpillars. The latest these plants can grow is until June, but afterwards they have no chance of growing until the next spring.[6]



Although the Caterpillar Phacelia is native to California USA, it is found throughout western North America in places such as southern Nevada and Baja California, but is located no where else. It is found in areas near sand, gravel, rocky slopes, open grassland, costal sage scrub, and oak woodland. They can only handle colds up to 15 degrees Fahrenheit maximum and are usually in sunny areas that have a bit of shade. On rare occasions they have also been found in burn areas. On the map to the left, the areas it was originally found in have been shaded.[4][5]

Care's, Harms, and Uses of this plant

There is known to be no difficulty taking care of this plant. The scanty amount of water needed for this plant makes it easier on you while it's growing. On the other hand, if something goes wrong with the plant there is very little chance it will survive because of the low amount of nursery availability, meaning there aren't many people that are very experienced with that specific flower. The Caterpillar Phacelia can also cause dermatitis, which is the inflammation of your skin.

Because this flower is visually attractive, it has multiple uses. It can be used for things such as ornamental plants, native plants, in wildlife gardens, natural landscaping designs, habitat restoration, and water conserving gardens.[6] [7]


Close up look of the plant along with many facts about it.


  1. WikiVisuallyPhacelia cicutaria WiikiVisually.Web. February 2, 2018 (accessed).
  2. Phacelia cicutaria Green caterpillar phaceliaUnited States Department of Agriculture.Web.Feburary 1, 2018 (accessed).
  3. TREATMENT FROM THE JEPSON MANUAL (1993) Jepson Flora Project: Jepson Interchange. Web. February 1, 2018 (accessed)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Caterpillar Phacelia Boraginaceae (Borage Family) Web. February 1, 2018 (accessed)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Phacelia cicutaria E. Greene Caterpillar phacelia Calflora Taxon Report 6298. Web. February 1, 2018 (accessed)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Plant Database Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Web. January 1, 2007(date modified)
  7. Caterpillar Phacelia Plant Information February 1, 2018(accessed).