Regularity: Regularly occurring
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N3 - Vulnerable
Polemonium eximium (skypilot or showy sky pilot) is a perennial plant in the phlox family (Polemoniaceae) that grows at high altitudes (mostly above 10,000 feet (3,000 m)). It is endemic to the Sierra Nevada in California where it grows in the talus of the high mountain slopes.
Wildflower enthusiasts consider it to be among the best of the Sierra wildflowers, and highly rewarding to find.
Habitat and range
It mostly occurs at elevations from 10,000 to 14,000 feet (3,000 to 4,300 m) in the Central and Southern Sierra Nevadas. It mostly occurs in colonies in stark surroundings, above 10,000 feet (3,000 m), in rocky areas that appear mostly devoid of soil, and rarely in association with other plants.
Leaves and stems
Surrounding the stems are nearly cylindrical sticky leaves, 1⁄4 inch (6.4 mm) long, are each made up of 3–5 leaflets, which in turn are subdivided into lobes. The herbage is hairy and glandular in texture.
Inflorescence and fruit
The showy inflorescence is a crowded head of several flowers. The bright deep blue to whitish-blue to pink-lavender flowers are fragrant. Each flower has a tubular calyx of hairy sepals and a funnel-shaped corolla spreading to f lobes, in shades of pale to bright or deep blue with a whitish throat. The flowers are at full bloom for approximately one day in the very short period of appropriate flowering conditions. The plant has a strong scent reminiscent of urine which attracts pollinators to its short-lived flowers. It blooms from July to August.
- "Polemonium eximium". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
- "Taxon Report 6714, Polemonium eximium". Calflora. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
- Sierra Nevada Wildflowers, Elizabeth Horn, Mountain Press Publishing Co., ISBN 0878423885, 1998, p. 126
- Sierra Nevada Wildflowers, Karen Wiese, 2nd ed., 2013
- Philip A. Munz (2003). Dianne Lake; Phyllis M. Faber, eds. Introduction to California Mountain Wildflowers. University of California Press. ISBN 0520236351.
- "Polemonium eximium". Jepson Flora Project. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
- The Outdoors Digest Field Guide - Sky Pilot. Los Angeles Times.
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