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   The story of Gilia and Aliciella: Gilia laciniata, the first Gilia in the genus, was collected by Ruiz and Pavon in Peru or Chile and published in their 1794 Prodromus Florae Peruvianal et Chilensis (A Preliminary Treatise on the Flora of Peru and Chile).  Ruiz and Pavon named the genus Gilia for Filippo Luigi Gilii (1756-1821),  Italian clergyman and naturalist.  The species name should be pronounced with a soft g: "Gee-lee uh".  (See Biographies of Naturalists for more information.)

     For nearly two centuries after Ruiz and Pavon named Gilia, the genus was highly inclusive and variable with many of its members hybridizing.  It had become a catchall genus.  But in the 20th century the genus was reexamined often and, especially over the last 50 years, a number of its members were placed into other Polemoniaceae genera: Giliastrum, Saltugilia, Navarretia, Ipomopsis, Aliciella, Allophyllum, Linanthus, etc.

     In 1998 J. Mark Porter, Polemoniaceae expert with the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, placed all species shown on this page in the Aliciella genus (a genus created in 1905 by Brand).  As Larry Blakely tells it in his informative web site, Who's In a Name

In 1892, while botanizing in Utah and Colorado (the latter being the state in which she came to maturity as a botanist), [Alice] Eastwood discovered a new Gilia which she named Gilia triodon in an 1893 publication....  All of us who have struggled to identify Gilias would readily agree that it is a difficult and diverse group.  Members of several current genera, such as Linanthus and Loeseliastrum, were, in Asa Gray's time, included within Gilia.  Many botanists over the years have made attempts to sort out the variability and come up with better groupings of this disparate mélange of species.  In 1905... August Brand came to believe that Eastwood's plant was sufficiently different to warrant a new genus, which he named Aliciella in recognition of her as the discoverer, and also out of gratitude for Eastwood's help with specimens. People aren't usually honored with plant names based on their given name, but there already was a genus Eastwoodia, with one species, for a shrub of the sunflower family (Eastwoodia elegans Brandegee) which Eastwood discovered in central California....

Brand's genus Aliciella was not widely accepted and was relegated to footnote status throughout most of the 20th century. In a recent attempt to straighten out the Phlox family problem children, based on DNA analyses, J. Mark Porter, Rancho Santa Ana botanist, has revived the genus name and placed many former members of Gilia in it.

Click for Aliciella haydenii.
Click for more Gilia species
.

Aliciella formosa
Aliciella formosa.  Synonym: Gilia formosa.   (Gilia)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Shrublands. Spring.
Angel Peak National Recreation Area, New Mexico, June 3, 2010.

Aliciella formosa
Aliciella formosa.  Synonym: Gilia formosa.   (Gilia)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Shrublands. Spring.
BLM Lands South of Bloomfield, New Mexico, April 23, 2007.

This lovely, rare plant grows only in northwest New Mexico.  Basal leaves are linear and sharp-pointed in contrast to the lobed leaves of the other Aliciella species shown on this web site.  Older plants grow to about 12 inches tall and ten inches in diameter and become woody at the base.  Aliciella formosa grows only in soils derived from the Nacimiento Formation.

In 1998 J. Mark Porter changed the name of  several Gilias to Aliciella.  The Aliciella genus was named by Brand in 1905.  Alice Eastwood was the most renowned of Colorado women botanists in the 19th and 20th centuries and became the Curator of the California Academy of Sciences Herbarium in 1894, remaining there until 1949.  (More biographical information.)

Aliciella formosa

Aliciella formosa

Aliciella formosa.  Synonym: Gilia formosa.   (Gilia)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Shrublands. Spring.
BLM Lands South of Bloomfield, New Mexico, April 23, 2007.

Aliciella subnuda
Aliciella subnudaSynonym: Gilia subnuda. (Gilia)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Openings. Spring, summer.
Road into Canyonlands National Park, May 19, 2004.

Aliciella subnuda is very similar to Aliciella haydenii, but flowers of A. haydenii are more crowded toward the stem tips; flowers of A. subnuda are darker red-pink (A. subnuda is sometimes given the common name of "Carmine Gilia"); and A. subnuda tends to thrive more on dry, sandy soils versus the more shale and clay soils that A. haydenii prefers.  Both love the hot and dry.  Both have lobed leaves in a basal rosette, although with care you can see the difference in the structure of the basal leaves.  Both seed well, and where you find one plant, you will usually find a dozen scattered nearby.  

Aliciella subnuda is a Utah and Arizona Canyon Country endemic. The range map below is incorrect, for those Colorado and New Mexico plants which were identified as Aliciella subnuda were actually Aliciella haydenii. There are no confirmed reports of A. subnuda in Colorado or New Mexico.

Newberry, Stretch, and Palmer collected this lovely plant; John Torrey named it; and Asa Gray first described it in 1870.  (More biographical information about Eastwood.)

Aliciella subnuda

Aliciella subnuda

Aliciella subnudaSynonym: Gilia subnuda. (Gilia)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)
 

Semi-desert, foothills. Openings. Spring, summer.
Road into Canyonlands National Park, May 7, 2011.

Notice the fine hairs that cover the stem.  These hairs, and those not quite so visible on the calyx and the throat of the flower, are glandular-sticky hairs, as evidenced by the amount of sand stuck to the plant.

Range maps © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Questionable presence

Range map for Aliciella formosa

Range map for Aliciella subnuda