Sky pilot, skunkweed, sticky Jacob's-ladder
Parts of the Rocky Mountain states and all states to the west, except California
Between 4 and 14 inches
Tundra and rocky outcrops, from 8,000 to 14,000 feet
Basal, up to 6 inches in length, divided into 13 to 39 sticky-hairy leaflets, less than half an inch long
Polemonium viscosum is an easily recognized species with large, showy flowers and finely divided leaves. The leaves point upwards, with straight or lightly curved stalks, and are divided into up to 39 leaflets, arranged in whorls of up to five. Stems, stalks and leaves are covered by short, glandular hairs. Plants produce one to four stems, each topped by a spherical, bracted cluster of flowers.
The purple, pale blue or (less often) white lowers are sessile, or attached by very short stalks. They are somewhat longer (up to one inch) than they are wide; formed of five overlapping, rounded, oblanceolate lobes around a group of five stamens with purple filaments and yellow anthers, and a purple pistil topped by three stigmas. Beneath the petal is a five-lobed, glandular calyx, the lobes shorter than the tube.