Phlox bifida
Cleft phlox
Image of Phlox bifida

Photo by James R. Wells 

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Key Characteristics

Slender forb of sandy prairies and open woods; stem matted and decumbent at base, hairy, bearing opposite linear leaves; flower pale violet, petals strongly notched, uniting to form a floral tube.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: X
  • State Rank: SX
  • Global Rank: G5?


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
St. Joseph21988
Distribution map for Phlox bifida

Updated 5/15/2018. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


In its core range, cleft phlox is found in open oak woods, sandy, scrub-oak savanna, and sandy open ground. Only one collection from Michigan (1890) may have represented a naturally occurring population, here in oak savanna on a lakeshore.

Natural Community Types


For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Associated Plants

Black oak, dwarf chinquapin oak, white oak, fragrant sumac, red cedar, Canada bluegrass, wild bergamot, old-field goldenrod, thimbleweed, lousewort, little bluestem, leadplant, New Jersey tea, flowering spurge, western sunflower, bird's foot violet, and bush clover.


This species requires protection of the habitat and of the hydrological and natural disturbance regimes. This species likely requires natural disturbances associated with prairie habitat such as prescribed fire or brush removal to prevent woody plant succession. Much of this habitat type has been lost or severely degraded.

General Survey Guidelines

Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgment of the investigator.

Survey Methods

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at [Accessed Sep 22, 2018]


Survey References

Technical References

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