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

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Wildflower Wednesday: Fleischmannia incarnata

I found our Wildflower Wednesday star in the Susan's bed a few years ago. It looked like  Conoclinium coelestinum/Blue Mistflower, but, the flowers were less numerous and pink. There were a few other differences, too. Blue Mistflower is a sturdy plant with upright reddish stems, while this little beauty could be best described as airy and loose limbed.

I rather liked what I saw.

I'm never surprised to discover a new native plant in this neighborhood or even in my garden. Plants frequently appear, either having gone unnoticed or because conditions were favorable for growth of seeds in the soil seed bank. This was a woodland not so very long ago and there must be many wildflower seeds laying dormant in the soil.

Wildflowers and other Central Basin natives grew with happy abandon in the forested woodland where this garden now stands. Sixty three years ago a neighborhood was carved from the woodland and a house was built. Homeowners came and went, while the wildflowers grew quietly on the woodland  edge. Thirty three years ago, my husband I bought this garden and that brand new gardener fell head over heals in love with the Goldenrods and blue clouds of ex-asters that were covered with bees and butterflies. The woodland remnants in my backyard and side yards were where I discovered the beautiful wildflowers that have become my gardening soulmates: False Soloman's Seal, Spring Beauties, Rue Anemone, Trout-lily, False Garlic, Blue-eyed Grass, Wild Sweet William, Sweet Betsy, Goldenrods, Blue Mistflower, Frostweed and those many white and blue ex-asters.

Long time readers might remember that I built this garden around those native beauties, so, finding  Fleischmannia incarnata to add to the mix was delightful.
photo by Richard and Teresa Ware   
Fleischmannia incarnata is a North American species of flowering plant in the Asteracea family. It is native to the United States from Florida north as far as Virginia, Ohio, and Illinois, and west to Texas and Oklahoma.  It's found happily growing in moist woodlands, thickets, marshes, and along streambanks. In optimal growing conditions, it can reach 6 feet tall, but, in my garden it's a low branching sprawler.  It produces numerous flower heads in a flat-topped array at the ends of the stems, each head has about 20 pink or whitish-pink disk flowers per head. There are no ray flowers.

The leaves are opposite, widely spaced at nodes, and triangular shaped; they remind me of Nepeta. They're softer to the touch than leaves of Blue Mistflower, which is another way to tell them apart.

It has an airy, loose limbed attractiveness and is a good partner for Eupatorium serotinum, both are found in moist shade. It's not unusual to find it sprawling against neighboring plants in a lax fashion. Training it on a trellis might help show off it's pretty flower faces to the world.

Foraging bees are frequent visitors. Skippers hover around it, doing their lovely mating dances. It doesn't appear to be a host plant for butterflies, but, if anyone reading this knows otherwise, please let me know.
Florets (Source)
Dried plants are said to have an odor similar to vanilla. I must admit, I've not noticed, but, will make a point this fall when I collect seeds. I will definitely propagate it, because, one needs more sprawling beauties luxuriating in a garden.


The particulars

Botanical name: Fleischmannia incarnata
Common Name: pink slender thoroughwort, pink thoroughwort, pink boneset
Herbaceous perennial
Native Range: In the USA: AL, AR, AZ, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MO, MS, NC, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV
Tennessee Range:

Size: 12 in. - 6 ft. | 30 cm - 1.8 m, low branching growth habit, sprawling.
Bloom Time: Aug–Dec. depending upon where you garden
Bloom Description:Inflorescence - Flat-topped panicles of heads at branch tips and flower heads with disc florets and no ray florets.
Best Plant Description: In appearance it is reminiscent of a tall, gangly ageratum with pale pinkish florets and catnip-like leaves.
Sun Light: Shade, Partial to Full Shade
Water: Prefers moist soil
National Wetland Indicator Status: FACU+ FAC
Maintenance: Low, as long as it is not allowed to dry out.
Propagation Methods: From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall or direct sow after last frost.
Seed Collecting: Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds.
Comments:Woodlands, thickets, moist soil, roads, ditches, stream banks, bottomlands, swamps, depressions, cedar glades and if your lucky in your garden.
Wildlife value: This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds (seeds). Doesn't appear to be a butterfly host plant, but, it is an excellent nectar source.
Flowers are fragrant
Commercially available: One Beaufort, SC nursery had it for sale.


Welcome to Clay and Limestone's Wildflower Wednesday celebration. WW is about sharing and celebrating wildflowers from all over this great big, beautiful world. Join us on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Remember, it doesn't matter if they are in bloom  and, it doesn't matter if we all share the same plants. It's all about celebrating wildflowers. 

Please leave your link in the comment section if Mr Linky does not work.

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. You always have such interesting and unfamiliar (to me at least) wildflowers to write about. Mine today are of the most common kind.

    1. Thank you. I am lucky to be where so many wildflowers were once abundant.

  2. We have a weed here looking just like that or similar to that! I just wonder if they are really the same. But it is so tiny

  3. Your garden has such a diverse wealth of wildflowers, Gail--this is another new one to me!

  4. I've tried Mist Flower twice but my soil gets too dry in the summer without extra watering. I love this beauty.

    1. I have trouble keeping this happy in the droughty summers we are having.

  5. I share your excitement of finding a new wildflower in the garden.

  6. It is a super cutie! I don't have it, but I have mistflower in spades. I have let it kind of go this year, and it's a nightmare. I also have a strange weed. I'll have to take a picture of it and ask you what it might be. Thanks for your Wildflower Wednesday posts. I learn so much.~~Dee

    1. I noticed that Blue Mistflower was getting out of hand, too, but it's so pretty now. Just let me see a photo and we'll see what we can find about the unknown flower.o

  7. What a nice discovery! I wonder what other native seeds are there, waiting for the right time to germinate. I was not able to link in this time. I need to spend some time figuring out cookies. I got to the point where I added a photo, but it wouldn't let me proceed further. Here is the link to this month's post of mine: http://acornergarden.blogspot.com/2018/09/september-2018-wildflower-wednesday.html

    1. If you refresh the screen, it seems to sort out its grumbles - and the link is as it should be.

  8. A wonderful discovery! This one is totally new to me; I'll have to keep my eyes open for it. Thanks for sharing it. Cynthia

  9. Your description of your passion for wildflowers rings true and inspiring, Gail. This does seem so very similar to Blue Mistflower, which is a fall favorite here...yet it's different. Thanks for hosting and sharing!

  10. I discovered a new wildflower on our land this month, too. A goldenrod that grows in shade!

  11. What a great plant. I love Blue Mistflower and I am going to look into getting some of this for the pollinator garden.

  12. Pretty little thing!
    Have a great weekend!

  13. This is a totally new one on me. Interested to see it is native in parts of Illinois, but I'm guessing that would be in the southern part of the state.

  14. Although it does resemble Mistflower, this one is indeed Pretty in Pink.

  15. How heartwarming to find survivors and encourage them to thrive!


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