Silverleaf phacelia as seen on weedy, sandy soils at Horsethief Butte in the eastern Colubmia River Gorge..........May 10, 2009. Notice how this species has numerous stems ascending from the base of the plant, and that many of them are about equal in height. The similar variedleaf phacelia (Phacelia heterophylla) typically has one to several erect stems, generally with the middle one higher than the others. Variedleaf phacelia also typically has one to several pairs of lobes at base of the leaf blade.
Silver-leaf phacelia is a perennial with a taproot and one to several prostrate to more or less erect stems from 50-100 cm high. The stems and leaves are covered with fine, short, silvery hairs. Any bristles that may be present are mostly ascending or appressed except in the inflorescence. The leaves are simple with prominent pinnate venation and the margins are usually entire, although some leaves may have a pair of small lateral lobes at the base of the blade. The basal leaves are numerous and tufted and narrowly to broadly elliptic in shape tapering to long petioles. The stem leaves are reduced in size and become sessile on the upper stems.
The inflorescence is usually short and compact, although it may occasionally be longer and thinner. The corolla 4-7 mm long and wide and is a dull white to lavender or dull purple in coloration. The filaments are conspicuously longer than the corolla lobes.
Silver-leaf phacelia may be found in dry rocky to sandy locations at all elevations.
Silver-leaf phacelia may be found from southern British Columbia east to Alberta and south to California, Colorado, and western Nebraska.
In the Columbia River Gorge, variety hastata may be found from about Wind Mt. east to the eastern end of the gorge between the elevations of 100'-3000'. Variety compacta may be found between the elevations of 2600'-3600' in the mid-gorge.