Blue Gilia, flaxflowered ipomopsis

Ipomopsis longiflora

The narrow leaves of this native plant are easy to miss. Until it begins to flower, you'll probably walk right by it. Blue gilia is an annual, sometimes a biennial, that begins blooming in late winter. If conditions are right, it can survive and bloom until fall. Flower color can vary from white to light blue-purple.

blue gilia blooming at Academy Village

Allow blue gilia to come up among other plants - it's delicate enough to fit right in. It needs no care from you other than to leave it alone until it dies back and the seeds are released. However, a bit of extra water during the hottest, driest months may help it survive to flower again during the monsoon. Seeds are sometimes available for purchase in "wildflower mixes".

Notes: previous scientific name for this plant was Gilia longiflora/

Wildlife value: this flower is pollinated by moths

More Information

Weekly Plant on blue gilia

Planting Desert Wildflowers from Desert Botanical Garden

Map of distribution in US (yellow indicates plant is native but rare)

 

ID Characteristics

 This plant is in the Polemoniaceae - the phlox family.
blue gilia blooming at Academy Village
Blue gilia's thin stems grow to create a plant that is loose and open, with many branches. It grows to about 18 inches high, perhaps taller with ample water. It is usually found growing in full sun.
blue gilia blooming at Academy Village
The leaves of blue gilia are divided into segments, each long and slender. Each leaf is about 2 inches long. They are dark green and arranged alternatively on the stem.blue gilia blooming at Academy Village
The flowers are held at the end of a stalk. Each flower is 2+ inches long, forming a tube for most of its length. At the end, the 5 petals divide and flair out, perpendicular to the tube. The trumpet-shaped flower varies in color from white to blue-purple. 
blue gilia blooming at Academy Village
Before the flower opens, the divided petals are twisted together, to unroll as the flower matures. 
blue gilia blooming at Academy Village
The fruit is a capsule less than an inch long. In the photo above you can see the fruit surrounded by the 5 united sepals. The 2-inch style, that must reach all the way down the long trumpet portion of the flower, stays attached to the fruit, at least initially.