Gilia capitata

From Puget Prairie Plants
  • Scientific Name: Gilia capitata
  • Family: Polemoniaceae
  • Common Names: bluehead gilia, globe gilia
  • Codon: GILCAP

Photo by Ben Legler, 2004 also featured on Main Page


Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Subkingdom: Viridiplantae
Phylum: Tracheophyta
Subphylum: Tracheophytina
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Asteranae
Order: Ericales
Family: Polemoniaceae
Genus: Gilia Ruiz & Pav.
Species: Gilia capitata Sims



Annual herb from a taproot.[2]

Leaves pinnately lobed, segments and rachis slender, reduced upwards on stem.[2] Leaf axils and midribs generally hairy.[3]

Inflorescence terminal, spheric, consisting of many unstalked flowers, generally more than 8 per head, corolla bluish.[2] Corolla lobes 5, generally about as long as the corolla tube. 5 sepals, membranes white, expanded during fruiting.[3] Stamens equal as long as or slightly exserted from corolla lobes.[2]

Fruits are 3-chambered capsules, each bearing 1-3 seeds.[3]

Bloom Period

May, June, July[4]


Mostly west Cascades, southern BC to California occasionally east to western Idaho.[2]


Found in open places below 7,000 ft. elevation. West-side forest, meadow, and east-side forest. Grows in open, sandy, or rocky soils, and grassy hillsides.[5]


Payómkawichum use of seeds as food.[6]

Rich nectar source.


Seeds do not require pre-treatment but germination improved by the presence of charred wood or aqueous extracts of it.[5]


Seed sample from: 2011

Average Measurement: 1.7 x 1.1 x 0.7

Measurement Range: L: 1.2 – 2, W: 0.75 – 1.4, D: 0.5 – 1.1


Photo by Lisa Hintz

Shape: Seed narrow at hilium end, broadening at opposite apex. Hilium inconspicuous. Uniformity in shape is not that common, but most seeds take a relatively teardrop shaped.

Color: Seed is brown, very bumpy, and slightly lustrous.

Surface: Seed coat becomes very mucilaginous and stringy when wet.

Could be confused with COGRX, but GICA is about ½ the size and does not have sulcus.

Latitudinal Cross Section: elliptical GICA lat.png

Longitudinal Cross Section: obovate GICA long.png

Basic Explanations and Assumptions:

The dimensions for the seeds are length x width x depth. The location of the hilum is used as the base of the seed, and the length is measured from hilum to the opposite apex. Where a style is present, the length is measured from the hilum to the bottom of the style. Width is measured at a right angle to the length at the widest part. Depth is measured at a right angle to the intersection of height and width lines.

Measurements included are the mean average for each measurement of ten separate seeds.

All measurements in millimeters unless otherwise noted.

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  1. Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved from
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Hitchcock, C. L., Cronquist, A., Giblin, D., & Legler, B. et al. (2018). Flora of the Pacific Northwest: an illustrated manual. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2020. E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia []. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2020-06-08 12:03:17 PM ]
  4. WTU Herbarium, Burke Museum, & University of Washington. Retrieved from
  5. 5.0 5.1 Middleton, Kelsey G. (2011, May 19). Plant Propagation Protocol for Gilia capitiata. UW Courses: ESRM 412 – Native Plant Production.
  6. Sparkman, Philip S., 1908, The Culture of the Luiseno Indians, University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 8(4):187-234, page 230. Retrieved from