© Patrick J. Alexander. Photo courtesy of Patrick J. Alexander @USDA NRCS PLANTS Database
Ipomopsis aggregata (Pursh) V. Grant
Scientific Name Synonyms:
Cantua aggregata Pursh
Gilia aggregata (Pursh) Spreng
Life Span: Biennial or Perennial
Growth Characteristics: Scarlet gilia grows 1 to 3 feet tall normally, but can reach heights of up to 5 feet. It blooms throughout the summer, and is a favorite of hummingbirds and hawk moths.
Flowers: Flowers can range in color from salmons to red-orange to scarlet. Early flower buds look similar to penstemon. Flowers are 2-3 inches long, star-shaped, and odorless unless crushed. The petals are fused into a trumpet-shape with a long narrow tube and spreading lobes.
Leaves: Basal leaves are finely cut, light green, often silver speckled, and are a common late summer and early spring sight. The leaves over-winter and have a musky scent. The crushed leaves smell like a skunk. Leaves are also found on the stem. Sticky and covered with fine hairs.
Stems: One erect, usually unbranched stem. Sticky and covered with fine hairs.
Found from the semi-desert to montane zones. It prefers dry soils on hillsides, along roadsides and trails. It also does well in open pine forests, growing where it can have full sunlight. It is not shade-tolerant, but is very drought tolerant.
Soils: Requires a well-drained soil, preferably with a light (sandy) or medium (loamy) texture.
Associated Species: Big sagebrush, lupine, penstemon.
Uses and Management:
The plants has been boiled up as a tea. The whole plant is cathartic and emetic.
The leaves are steeped in hot water until the water turns a bright green, this liquid is taken in small doses as a tonic for the blood. An infusion of the whole plant has been used to treat blood diseases. A decoction has been used as a disinfectant wash on itchy skin. A poultice of the whole plant has been applied to rheumatic joints. An infusion of the roots is used as a laxative and in the treatment of high fevers, colds.