Biennial herb 20 - 50 cm tall Stem: upright, covered with stiff, spreading hairs, and becoming glandular-hairy in the inflorescence. Leaves: long-stalked, broadly triangular or egg-shaped in outline, but pinnately, three- to five-parted into egg-shaped segments, which are further sharply-lobed or coarsely toothed. Inflorescence: a glandular-hairy, somewhat elongate, few-branched cluster near the top of the stem, with the flowers on stalks about the same length as the sepals. Flowers: blue, 1 - 1.5 cm wide, radially symmetric, cup- or bell-shaped with broad, somewhat spreading petals. Sepals: five, but fused at very base, then separating into fairly narrow, lance-shaped, pointed, hairy lobes. Petals: five, but fused at base, then separating into broad, round-tipped, somewhat spreading lobes, which are very hairy on the back. Five, linear, 2 - 2.5 mm long appendages sit inside the base of the petal tube opposite each petal lobe. Stamens: five, filaments very long-hairy, attached near the base of the petal tube (between the linear appendages), alternating with the petal lobes, and obviously extending beyond the petals. Pistil: with a single-chambered, superior ovary; and one style, which splits into two stigmas. Fruit: a stalked (stalks spread or curve downward), two-valved, single-chambered capsule with four, 3 - 4 mm long, black seeds. Root: a taproot.
Similar species: No other species of Phacelia have been reported from the Chicago Region, but P. bipinnatifida is easily separated from the other eastern North American species in the genus because it has stalked leaves, non-toothed petals, and very hairy filaments. Our native Hydrophyllum species may appear somewhat similar, but they can be distinguished from P. bipinnatifida because the flowers have more narrow petals, and the inflorescences are more compact, branching clusters, which arise on stalks from the leaf axils.
Flowering: April to June
Habitat and ecology: Only reported in the Chicago Region from a single specimen that was descendant from an introduced population, this species naturally occurs more south of our area in rich woods or shaded, wetter areas.
Biennial, 2-5 dm, spreading-hirsute and (especially in the infl) also glandular; lvs petiolate, broadly triangular to ovate in outline, the larger twice pinnatifid, the upper less divided, the segments ovate, acute, incised or coarsely toothed; cor blue, subrotate, 10-15 mm wide, the broad lobes entire or minutely erose, pilose on the back, the basal appendages in the tube 2-2.5 mm; filaments villous, mostly long-exsert; ovules 4; seeds 4, black, 3-4 mm; 2n=18. Moist woods; Va. to s. O., n. Ill., and se. Mo., s. to Ga., Ala., and Ark. Apr.-June.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.
Infrequent throughout the area shown on the map which covers all of our reports. Probably absent from the area east and north of the stations indicated. The only report from Ohio is from Hamilton County, near Cincinnati. It prefers a moist, rich soil, usually that of wooded slopes along streams. The bruised plant is ill-scented.