Uncurling Blues

Anyone coming upon the tightly clustered buds of Phacelia congesta for the first time could be forgiven for assuming its flowers would be white. Instead, they emerge as a beautiful purple to lavender-blue, giving the plant its common name of ‘blue curls.’

As the buds mature, they begin to separate and uncurl, providing a second common name for the plant: caterpillars. A favorite Texas garden flower because of its abundant nectar — and deer resistance — blue curls grow easily from seed, and often form large colonies.

Most references indicate a March to May bloom time for blue curls; as summer heat arrives, they fade from the scene. In fact, the first three photos showing plants in various stages of opening were taken in Goliad on March 5.

That said, only one day prior, in the Rockport cemetery, the process of uncurling was nearly complete; many of the flowers already were beginning to fade. Goliad and Rockport are only sixty miles apart; it was a good reminder that local conditions, including temperature, hours of sunlight, and rainfall can make quite a difference in a plant’s life cycle.


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