White Navarretia

Common name: White Navarretia

Scientific name: Navarretia leucocephala
Family: Polemonaceae (phlox)
Habitat: vernal pools
Size: plant 4 to 6 inches tall, each flower 3 to 5 mm, flower cluster 2 cm or more across

Description: Member of the phlox family. Each small white flower is a long tube with five lobes or petals. The flowers are arranged in heads that have spiny-looking bracts. Bracts are small leaves just below the flowers.

White Navarretia is white flowered and appears to sprawl along the ground. The similar Spiny Navarretia (Navarretia intertexta) is also white flowered but the plants are more tall and slender.

Fun facts: White Navarretia is a good nectar source for migrating Painted Lady butterflies.

Life cycle: White Navarretia is an annual plant. It germinates under water and grows very slowly until the water warms and the pool begins to evaporate. It blooms when all of the water has dried up in May.

Ecology: White Navarretia produces large amounts of nectar and is attractive to the domestic Honey Bee as well as native insects such as butterflies. Because it is so good at attracting pollinators, the parasitic Vernal Pool Dodder (Cuscuta howelliana) often puts its flowers within the clusters of White Navarretia flowers.

Investigate: Investigate how White Navarretia and Vernal Pool Dodder co-exist. Team up with the Vernal Pool Dodder specialist in your class. Find them growing together in the field.