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    The Ipomopsis genus was named by Andre Michaux in 1803; 20th century Gilia experts, Verne Grant and Alva Day, re-assigned the Ipomopsis species shown on this website page from the Gilia genus to the Ipomopsis genus in 1956.  

     "Ipomopsis" means "similar to Ipomoea" ("Morning Glories", one of which has a tubular red flower).

     The word "Gilia" is pronounced "Gee lee uh". The genus was named for Italian clergyman and scientist, Filippo Luigi Gilii (gee lee ee). Click to read biographical information about Gilii.

Click for Ipomopsis tenuituba photographs.

 This is a native species.

Ipomopsis aggregata

    How many years do Ipomopsis aggregata plants live? The vast majority of on-line resources and professional floras indicate that I. aggregata is "a biennial to short-term perennial", but I have found no research citations to support such life spans.

    There is, however, research showing I. aggregata to be a "long-lived monocarpic perennial" and some research indicates a life-span of 3-5 years, some 1-8 years, some 10 years.

    In response to my question about the life span of I. aggregata, David Inouye of the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory emailed me the following:

[Ipomopsis aggregata] plants lack clonal spread and recruit from seeds, which are shed about one month after flowers senesce. At the RMBL, few seeds (usually < 4%; Campbell 1997Waser et al. 2000) remain dormant beyond the first winter after seed drop. By the end of one growing season surviving plants have formed a small rosette of leaves that increases in size until the plant flowers. Because the snow-free summer growing season is short, most individuals at the RMBL take several years, sometimes more than ten, to flower (Waser et al. 2000).... Most individuals near the RMBL flower once and die; very few (usually < 1%) flower a second time.

In response to the I. aggregata life span question, Dieter Wilken co-author of the Polemoniaceae treatment in the Flora of North America, responded with the following information:

[I. aggregata is a] "short- to long-lived perennial (reproductive shoots monocarpic)" ......, based on plot-based observations in two study areas (Colorado Front Range and North Park, Colorado), where the reproductive shoots ranged from 3 to 6-7 years old. In some cases the ages of the reproductive shoots were the same as that of the vegetative rosette. In other plots, especially in North Park, numerous rosettes, some having flowered, survived beyond the field studies.

Ipomopsis aggregata

Ipomopsis aggregata.   Synonym: Gilia aggregata. (Scarlet Gilia)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Semi-desert, foothills, montane. Woodlands, meadows, openings. Spring, summer, fall.
Above: Road to Sharkstooth Trail, July 14, 2006.
Left: Horse Creek Trail, July 18, 2007.

Yellow Ipomopsis aggregata are rarely encountered.

Ipomopsis aggregata

Ipomopsis aggregata

Ipomopsis aggregata

Ipomopsis aggregata

Ipomopsis aggregata

Ipomopsis aggregata
Ipomopsis aggregata.   Synonym: Gilia aggregata. (Scarlet Gilia)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Semi-desert, foothills, montane. Woodlands, meadows, openings. Spring, summer, fall.
Above: Mona and Mike's Five Springs Farm, May 27, 2016 and Bolam Pass Road, August 2, 2014.
Left: Abajo Mountains, Utah, June 12, 2009.

Scarlet Gilia is one of our most widely spread and common wild flowers, occurring from the lowest elevations to high mountains and blooming from late spring through summer and into fall. The finely cut green basal leaves appear silver speckled from fine white hairs and are easily identified even when no more of the plant has appeared. Flowers range from fiery red to red/orange and, most rarely, to yellow. Early flower buds look similar to the Penstemon, Scarlet Bugler, another very common, long-blooming, bright red flower in the Four Corners area.

The species name "aggregata", is from the Latin for "brought together", probably referring to the cluster of flowers.

Scarlet Gilia was first described by Frederick Pursh in 1814 from a specimen collected by Meriwether Lewis along the Lolo Trail in Idaho, June 26, 1806. Pursh called the plant, "Cantua aggregata". The plant has endured dozens of scientific name changes since 1814. The name "Gilia aggregata" was given in 1825 by Sprengel and in 1956 Polemoniaceae experts, Verne Grant and Alva Day assigned the name, "Ipomopsis aggregata", but as often happens with a name that has been so long used, the "Gilia" part of the name just wouldn't die and remains with the plant in its most often used common name, "Scarlet Gilia".

Ipomopsis aggregata
Ipomopsis aggregata.   Synonym: Gilia aggregata. (Scarlet Gilia)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Semi-desert, foothills, montane. Woodlands, meadows, openings. Spring, summer, fall.
Roaring Fork Road, June 29, 2006.

Ipomopsis aggregata

Ipomopsis aggregata.   Synonym: Gilia aggregata. (Scarlet Gilia)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Semi-desert, foothills, montane. Woodlands, meadows, openings. Spring, summer, fall.
Abajo Mountains, Utah, June 12, 2009 and Roaring Fork Road, June 29, 2006.

Notice the stamens and anthers protruding beyond the throat of the flower. This is one key factor distinguishing I. aggregata from I. tenuituba.

Ipomopsis aggregata.   Synonym: Gilia aggregata. (Scarlet Gilia)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Semi-desert, foothills, montane. Woodlands, meadows, openings. Spring, summer, fall.
Ryman Creek Trail, May 18, 2006.

The basal, green, finely cut leaves of Scarlet Gilia are a common sight from the Pinyon-Juniper forests to mountain meadows. The leaves over-winter so they, like the basal leaves of Eriogonum alatum (Winged Buckwheat), are familiar sights to many hikers. Looking at leaves of Scarlet Gilia with a hand lens will show you glistening silvery hairs along the surface.

Range map © 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
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Ipomopsis aggregata