Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Wildflower Wednesday: Lanceleaf fogfruit

I've recently discovered Phyla lanceolata, a cutie pie relative of Verbena growing on the other side of Hedge near the street. I'm very excited since the only other time I've seen it was while hiking at Owls Hill. Seeing it so close to Clay and Limestone's shallow, dry soil was a great surprise.
It might form a large mat, but, I can deal with these rough and tumble wildflowers!

Finding new to my garden wildflowers makes my day and I can't find any reason to not like this flower. It's a seriously cute little Verbena cousin that ought to be in more native plant gardens and considering that it's native to almost all of the US (except for the dryer NW states), it's amazing to me that it's not readily available. If I had a pond or stream in my garden it would have a place of honor.

If happy it will carpet the ground with attractive foliage that is accented in the summer with small clusters of pale lavender-pink flowers that attract bees and butterflies.  It's semi-evergreen (depending upon the zone you're gardening in) and can tolerate heat and humidity, as well as cold winters.  It is native to southeastern Canada, most of the United States southward into Mexico.

The sprawling stems can root on the ground (that's how it develops a mat) and the lance-shaped leaves that have tiny teeth on their edges and turn a reddish color in late fall or early winter. It blooms from late spring into early fall. The top of the cluster is purplish disc with the flowers whorling around the bottom. The individual flowers drop off leaving an attractive cluster of orange-brown fruits.

It's not surprising to find natives around this neighborhood. Seventy years ago this was a woodland/forest on the edge of the city and roads were bulldozed to build one of the city's first planned communities for the growing post war population.

When the developer's bulldozers were carving out roads they drove around big trees and left pockets of woodland/forest. It's in those forest remnants that I discovered beautiful wildflowers that have become my soulmates: False Soloman's Seal, Spring Beauties, Rue Anemone, Trout-lily, False Garlic, Blue-eyed Grass, Wild Sweet William and Sweet Betsy. We've been lucky that they have never completely disappeared and each spring delight residents with their arrival.

Now I can add Fogfruit to the collection.
The flowers start blooming at the bottom of the head, and progressively bloom up the head as the season progresses

Today and there are still many wildflowers popping up in the verges and edges of many yards. I hope they stay safe from the developers who are now bull dozing the suburban ranches to built houses that fill almost the entire lot. Lawns that have to be maintained by weed and feed every year are replacing the freedom lawn with their Spring Beauties, wild Petunias, Fleabanes, Lyreleaf Sages and clover.

Ignorance is killing the wildflowers.
The flowers are arranged in whorls around the spike.

There's no weed and feed in my garden so wildflowers like Phyla lanceolata/Fogfruit are safe. It's blooming its cute little head off and I proclaim it the June Wildflower Wednesday star.
The inflorescence is a tight head, although, technically it's referred to as a spike

Let the celebration begin!
Photo: Ron Thomas
The Particulars

Botanical name: Phyla lanceolata
Genus: Verbenaceae (Verbena)
Common native: Northern Fog Fruit, Lanceleaf fogfruit, some call it frogfruit


Native: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NE, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WI, WV 

Hardiness zone: 5 to 11 (yes 11)

Habitat: sun; moist soil; along shores, floodplains, muddy flats

Bloom season: June - September

Plant height: short, but stems stand up about 12 inches

Wetland Indicator Status: OBL/Obligate wetland, almost always occurs in wetlands.  FACW/Facultative wetland, usually occurs in wetlands, but occasionally found in non-wetlands.

Flower Color: The flowers are white to lavender, with two lips. The outer lip is lobed to appear as three petals.

Cultural Information: Cuttings, taken in late spring through the summer, root readily at the nodes.

Wildlife value: The nectar of the flowers attracts various insects, including bumblebees, leaf-cutting bees, Epeoline cuckoo bees, long-horned bees, green metallic bees and other Halictid bees, Syrphid flies, bee flies, thick-headed flies, Tachinid flies, small butterflies, and skippers. Some of the Halictid bees also collect pollen. The foliage and seedheads are eaten by Canada Geese.Doesn't appear to be grazed by deer or bunnies. Source: Illinois Wildflowers

Comments: Use it as a mass planting in a difficult, moist spot in the garden. The plant has attractive foliage and cute flowers. Appears to be deer proof, although water fowl will eat the seeds.

Welcome to Clay and Limestone and Wildflower Wednesday.  This day is about sharing wildflowers and other native plants no matter where one gardens~the UK, tropical Florida, Europe, Australia, Africa, South America, India or the coldest reaches of Canada. It doesn't matter if we sometimes share the same plants. How they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most.

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.


  1. I am not sure I have heard about or seen this plant. I will have to keep an eye out for it.

  2. What a great discovery! I hadn't heard of this flower before. Last week, I looked at the calendar, and saw that today is Wildflower Wednesday. I promptly forgot to take photos for a post. I'll see if I can do that today.

    1. I will be checking back this evening to see what you choose. You never disappoint.


    2. Take your time Sue...it's okay.

    3. Thank you, Jeannie and Gail. I just got my post up, but was unable to get my link posted. I'll do it here. https://acornergarden.blogspot.com/

  3. As always, I have never seen or heard of the plant featured, then I manage to spot it somewhere. I will be looking for this one also.


  4. A new wildflower for me, too. I like the look of it and love the idea of seeing masses of it in wet areas. I have lots of those!

    1. It might be in a wet natiral area...Good luck finding it.

  5. "Ignorance is killing the wildflowers." Sad. On a happier note: Hopefully, messages like yours will break through to those who care. Wild Ones is making a big difference, too. This plant is new to me, as well, and I love it! :)

    1. We don't have a WildOnes in Nashville, I may have to start it myself.

  6. I have never seen this pretty little wildflower, but now I know it likes moist soil I know where to look for it. Thanks!

  7. I've never seen it, either, but I have plenty of wet areas, too.

    1. I wouldn't be surprised if you have it someplace near the water!

  8. Great plant, and totally new to me!

  9. How exciting to find such a pretty plant volunteering in your garden!

  10. So sweet - and what a name! I wonder where the "fogfruit" part comes from...

  11. What a beautiful little flower. Sometimes we have to get down really close to appreciate that it isn't just the big and blousy flowers that have beauty. We also have fogfruit growing wild. I must examine closely to see which kind it is. I think is often forgotten as a useful native groundcov


"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson