The genus Phlox is the best known group of the family Polemoniaceae, which also includes common plants such as Collomia and Polemonium. The genus includes about 50 or 60 species and is best developed in western North America, but other native species exist throughout North America and northern Asia. Most species are low and compact as a adaptation to the dry, windy habitats typically inhabited. Species range from high subalpine/alpine environments to low, arid desert canyons. There are however some more delicate tall species in more moderate climates. Flowers are always white to pink, purple or blue. The name Phlox is from the Greek word for flame, referring to the brightly colored flowers.
Defining some of the low, compact species is very difficult because of similarities in key characters. Some taxonomist have treated them as varieties of one species, which is an easy, but technically incorrect way to deal with them. But unless someone is really into beating their head on hard core taxonomy that lacks defined boudaries, it might simply be best to refer to most plants in the group as a "Phlox".
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