Phacelia is a genus of about 60 species in the family Boraginaceae, native to North and South America.
They develop purple or blue flowers arranged in short clusters or fascicles. Phacelia is versatile and will adapt to a variety of soil conditions as long as it remains well drained. Its eye catching flowers are highly attractive to honeybees and bumblebees.
The genus name comes from the Greek “phakelos”, which means “bundle” or “cluster”, referring to the crowded flower spikes of most species of the genus.
The common name Scorpionweed refers to the flower clusters that grow in a curling scorpion tail formation.
Phacelia symbolizes endurance, strength and determination.
Interesting facts about Phacelia:
Phacelia is closely related to Borage because of its hairy leaves and stems and attractiveness to bees. Both species are used as cover crops for the enrichment of agricultural soils. Although they belong to the same family of plants (Boraginaceae), their general appearance is not so similar.
Is Phacelia Invasive?
Some species, such as Phacelia tanacetifolia (Lacy Phacelia), may become invasive in some regions or habitats.
Is Phacelia Poisonous?
Phacelia is generally not considered toxic. However, some species can cause skin irritation similar to that of Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum).
Benefits and Uses
Phacelia can be used as cover crop. The plant is a great nitrogen holder and weed suppressor, as it aggressively outcompetes weeds and absorbs excess nitrates and calcium from the soil. It has been used as a cover crop throughout Europe, but has also been increasingly used in agriculture through the central and eastern US and Canada.
Cover crops are plants grown to cover the soil during idle periods, but also to improve soil fertility and structure. Well-established cover crops are effective at reducing soil erosion by leaving a cover over the soil which reduces soil displacement.
The plant is also used for hay and forage.
The flowers are most commonly seen in shades of purple and blue.
Phacelia can grow up to 120 cm (4 ft) high.
Phacelia prefers well drained soils within a pH range of 6.5 to 8.5.