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The genus "Ipomopsis" was named by Andre Michaux (1746-1802) and was published posthumously in 1803, probably by his son Francois Michaux (1770-1855).  "Ipomopsis" means "resembling the genus Ipomoea", Morning Glories.

Ipomopsis gunnisonii

Ipomopsis gunnisonii

Ipomopsis gunnisoniiSynonym: Gilia gunnisonii.  (Gunnison's Skyrocket)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)
 

Semi-desert. Sandy openings. Spring.
Comb Ridge, Utah, May 15, 2013.

Ipomopsis gunnisonii is an annual or winter annual with narrow, linear, alternate leaves; it is often glandular (see the sand grains stuck to the glandular/sticky hairs in the second photograph); and the usually white but sometimes blue flowers are 6-10 millimeters long, tubular, often with 5 long and narrow lobes. As shown at left, the weakly developed basal leaves are often dead by flowering time (anthesis).

I. gunnisonii with linear and entire lower leaves is very similar to I. pumila  with tooted or lobed lower leaves. See below.

John Torrey and Asa Gray named this species Gilia gunnisonii in 1857 from a specimen collected by Creutzfeldt in 1853 when on the Gunnison Topographic Engineers Expedition in central Utah.  The plant was renamed Ipomopsis gunnisonii by Verne Grant in 1956.  Gunnison was a highly accomplished and highly respected surveyor, naturalist, and soldier who, with Creutzfeldt and 6 others, was murdered while working on the railroad survey in Utah.  (Click for more biographical information about Gunnison.)

Ipomopsis gunnisonii

Ipomopsis gunnisonii

Ipomopsis gunnisoniiSynonym: Gilia gunnisonii.  (Gunnison's Skyrocket)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)
 

Semi-desert. Sandy openings. Spring.
Comb Ridge, Utah, May 15, 2013 and November 29, 2012.

Ipomopsis gunnisonii flowers, which have a long narrow tube topped by five flared lobes, are most often white and may have shorter lobes than those pictured. About a third of the flower tube is within the calyx. Five stamens protrude from the tube of the flower and they alternate with the five flower lobes. In the second photograph at left, you can see the blue, fine filaments of the stamens at the top left and center, in the middle, and at the bottom of the photograph.

Ipomopsis polycladonSynonym: Gilia polycladon.  (Spreading Skyrocket)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Semi-desert. Sandy openings. Spring.
South of the Hogback, New Mexico, April 24, 2007.

Sometime sprawling, more often somewhat erect, this tiny Gilia attracts attention with its leaves more than with its minute flowers. The plant pictured at left is young and it probably developed an upright, branched main stem.  Leaves are hairy and leaf tips have a prominent stiff hair. 

John Torrey named this species Gilia polycladon in 1858 from a specimen collected by Wright near El Paso, Texas in 1851-1852.  The plant was renamed Ipomopsis polycladon by Verne Grant in 1956.  "Polycladon" is Greek for "many branched".

Ipomopsis polycladonSynonym: Gilia polycladon.  (Spreading Skyrocket)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Semi-desert. Sandy openings. Spring.
South of the Hogback, New Mexico, April 24, 2007.

Flowers are sessile or nearly so. The floral tube length can vary from 3-6 millimeters long. The calyx lobes are swollen, sharply red-pointed, and shorter than the flower.

Click for more Ipomopsis polycladon photographs.

Ipomopsis pumila
Ipomopsis pumilaSynonym: Gilia pumila. (Dwarf Skyrocket).
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Sandy openings, shrublands, woodlands. Spring.
South of Bloomfield, New Mexico, April 23, 2007.

Growing to about eight inches tall, this lovely Ipomopsis can be found in all the Rocky Mountain states and Texas. Ipomopsis pumila is a very common plant in the lower elevations of the Four Corners area. 

The plant is upright, branched, and flowers are conspicuous. Flower color ranges from almost white to purple.

Thomas Nuttall named this species Gilia pumila in 1848 from a species he collected near the Platte River in the Front Range of the Rockies, probably on the Wyeth Expedition of 1834-1837.  Verne Grant renamed it Ipomopsis pumila in 1956.  "Pumila" is Latin for "dwarf".

Ipomopsis pumila

Ipomopsis pumilaSynonym: Gilia pumila. (Dwarf Skyrocket).
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)
 

Semi-desert, foothills. Sandy openings, shrublands, woodlands. Spring.
Near Highway 550 South of Bloomfield, New Mexico, April 23, 2007 and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, September 10, 2010.

Ipomopsis roseata
Ipomopsis roseataSynonym: Gilia roseata. (Rosy Skyrocket).
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Semi-desert. Openings. Spring, summer.
Corona Arch Trail, Utah, May 5, 2005.

Ipomopsis roseata usually grows in a compact, small shrub-like form and bears its numerous flowers in tight flat-topped clusters.  It grows to a bit over a foot tall and several feet around.  It, and its close cousin, Ipomopsis congesta, also shown on this page, thus have very different growth patterns from the more common open, airy, solitary Gilia/Ipomopsis plants shown on this page and elsewhere in this web site.

Compare Ipomopsis roseata with Ipomopsis congesta

I. roseata is found in rocky areas of the semi-desert and foothills and is a Colorado Plateau endemic found only in eastern Utah and west-central Colorado.

The type of this species was collected by Alice Eastwood in San Juan County, Utah and was named and described by Per Axel Rydberg in 1904.  Gilia expert Verne Grant reworked this genus and renamed the plant Ipomopsis in 1956.

Ipomopsis roseata
Ipomopsis roseataSynonym: Gilia roseata. (Rosy Skyrocket).
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Semi-desert. Openings. Spring, summer.
Corona Arch Trail, Utah, May 5, 2005.

Ipomopsis roseata
Ipomopsis roseataSynonym: Gilia roseata. (Rosy Skyrocket).
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Semi-desert. Openings. Spring, summer.
Corona Arch Trail, Utah, May 5, 2005.

Seed pods are several inches long.

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

Ipomopsis gunnisonii

Range map for Ipomopsis gunnisonii

Range map for Ipomopsis polycladon  

Range map for Ipomopsis pumila

Range map for Ipomopsis roseata