Jacob's-ladder, or sky-pilots, are mostly perennial herbs with alternate, pinnately compound or very deeply pinnately lobed leaves, ordinarily with well-defined leaflets, which are either entire or so deeply 2- to 5-cleft as to appear whorled. The plants are generally more or less glandular (at least in the flower cluster) and often strongly foul-smelling. The flowers are borne in diverse sorts of basically single clusters. The calyx is essentially herb-like, somewhat enlarged after flowering and becoming paper-textured. The corolla is trumpet-shaped or saucer-shaped to nearly broadly flared, mostly blue or white, less often purple, yellow, or flesh-colored to salmon, with 5 broad lobes. The stamens are about equally inserted inside the corolla tube. The capsules contain 1-10 seeds per ovary cell, sometimes becoming slimy when moistened. The genus consists of about 20 species of N. America and S. America and Eurasia, best developed in the cordillera of w. N. America. The name is said to be named for Polemon, a Greek philosopher. It is also said to be derived from the Greek polemos, strife.
Guide to Identify Presented Species of Genus Polemonium
PLANTS MOSTLY LESS THAN 30 CM TALL
P. viscosum Sticky Jacob's-ladder Perennial up to 20 cm tall, sticky glandular-hairy. Rocky places, mountains.
Flowers blue, funnel-shaped, 17-25 mm long, longer than wide.
Leaves mainly basal, with numerous small leaflets, these 2- to 5-cleft to base.