Phuopsis stylosa
Common Name: large-styled crosswort
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Rubiaceae
Native Range: Caucasus, northern Iran
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to August
Bloom Description: Pink
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Fragrant
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Drought

Culture

Easily grown in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in consistently moist soils. Established plants tolerate dry soils and periods of drought, but tend to burn out in the hot and humid summers of the deep South. Performs best in cool summer climates. Tolerates poor soils. Propagate from seed, division (spring) or cuttings (summer). Will reseed in the garden. Deadhead spent flowers and cut back foliage after flowering to prevent any unwanted self-seeding and to keep plants compact. May be grown as an annual.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Phuopsis stylosa, commonly known as Caucasian crosswort, creeping crosswort or phuopsis, is a little-known, rapid-growing, mat-forming, herbaceous perennial that typically rises to only 6-8” tall but spreads to 12-24” wide. It is native to hillsides and deciduous woodland areas in the Caucasus Mountains, Asia Minor and Iran. It features a dense spreading mat of aromatic, spiny-ciliate, narrow-lanceolate, pointed, bright green leaves (each to 3/4” long) which are arranged in whorls of 6-9 around relaxed square stems. Foliage is topped from late spring to early summer by tiny, pink, tubular flowers in showy, globular, pincushion-like, terminal clusters (to 1.5” across). Flower clusters are reminiscent of those found on some alliums. Leaves and flowers are aromatic (some say reminiscent of the musky smell of skunk), hence the also sometimes used common name of skunk plant. Synonymous with and formerly known as Crucianella stylosa.

Genus name reportedly comes from the Greek words phu (a species of Valerian) and opsis meaning resembling in reference to a purported resemblance between Valeriana phu and the genus Phuopsis or to a resemblance between the unpleasant aromas which come from both plants.

Specific epithet comes from the Greek word stylo which means having prominent styles in reference to the female flower.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Best for rock gardens or draping over cliff walls. Ground cover for slopes and difficult sites. Border fronts. Edging. Containers.