Polemonium eximium

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Polemonium eximium
Sky Pilot (Polemonium eximium) 2.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Polemoniaceae
Genus: Polemonium
Species: P. eximium
Binomial name
Polemonium eximium

Polemonium eximium, the skypilot[1] or showy sky pilot,[2] is a perennial plant in the phlox family (Polemoniaceae) that grows at high altitudes (mostly above 10,000 feet (3,000 m)).[3] It is endemic to the Sierra Nevada in California where it grows in the talus of the high mountain slopes.[3][4]

Wildflower enthusiasts consider it to be among the best of the Sierra wildflowers, and highly rewarding to find.[3]

Habitat and range[edit]

It mostly occurs at elevations from 10,000 to 14,000 feet (3,000 to 4,300 m) in the Central and Southern Sierra Nevada.[3][5] 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.[3]

It can be found near Kearsarge Pass in the Inyo National Forest, and near the summit of Mount Dana in Yosemite National Park.[3]


Growth pattern[edit]

It is a sticky, musky smelling 4 to 16 inches (10 to 41 cm) tall perennial plant with a woody base from, which grows clumps of erect stems .[5]

Leaves and stems[edit]

Basal leaves are glandular-hairy, 4–13 centimetres (1.6–5.1 in) long, and 4–9 centimetres (1.6–3.5 in) wide, each made up of 20-35 leaflets,[5] which in turn are subdivided into 3–5 lobes.[6]

Inflorescence and fruit[edit]

The showy inflorescence is a crowded head of many flowers.[5] The bright deep blue to whitish-blue to pink-lavender flowers are fragrant.[3] Each flower has a tubular calyx of hairy sepals and a funnel-shaped corolla spreading to lobes. [5] The flowers are at full bloom for approximately one day apiece in the very short period of appropriate flowering conditions.[7] The plant has a strong scent reminiscent of urine which attracts pollinators to its short-lived flowers.[7] It blooms from June to August.[5]


  1. ^ "Polemonium eximium". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  2. ^ "Taxon Report 6714, Polemonium eximium". Calflora. Retrieved 2 December 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Sierra Nevada Wildflowers, Elizabeth Horn, Mountain Press Publishing Co., ISBN 0878423885, 1998, p. 126
  4. ^ Sierra Nevada Wildflowers, Karen Wiese, 2nd ed., 2013
  5. ^ a b c d e f Philip A. Munz (2003). Dianne Lake; Phyllis M. Faber, eds. Introduction to California Mountain Wildflowers. University of California Press. ISBN 0520236351. 
  6. ^ "Polemonium eximium". Jepson Flora Project. Retrieved 2 December 2014. 
  7. ^ a b The Outdoors Digest Field Guide - Sky Pilot. Los Angeles Times.

External links[edit]