Botanical Name: Ipomopsis aggregata
Species: I. aggregata
Synonyms: Cantua aggregata Pursh, Gilia aggregata (Pursh) Spreng.
Common Names: Skyrocket, Scarlet gilia
Habitat: Ipomopsis aggregata is native to western N. America – Oregon to California to Texas, north to N. Dakota. It grows on dry rocky slopes in sagebrush, scrub and clearings in pine forests to 3000 metres in California.
Ipomopsis aggregata is a binnial/perennial plant .It has characteristic red, trumpet-shaped flowers and basal leaves stemming from a single erect stem. Depending on elevation, height can range from 12 inches, in Rocky Mountain alpine areas, to over 5 feet, in areas of southern Texas. Trumpet flowers can range from white, red, orange-red, and pink. Pink flowers are especially common in high mesa areas of Colorado, such as the Flat Tops, Grand Mesa, or the Uncompahgre Plateau. Yellow flowers have been reported for plant but are extremely rare. Fernlike leaves are low to the ground, helping encourage warmth in colder areas, and have silver specks and a fine white pubescence. A well known delicacy in nature, Ipomopsis aggregata is well adapted to herbivory, as it can regrow multiple flowering stalks once lost. Although herbivory initially reduces seed and fruit count of the plant, intermediate herbivory and its stimulating factors could lead to the plant growing larger over time. Elk and mule deer are common herbivores on Ipomopsis aggregata. It is in flower from June to July. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
The plant needs a well-drained dry soil in sun or partial shade[. Requires a light very well drained fertile soil in full sun. Plants are cold-hardy to about -15°c, but they are susceptible to rot in areas with wet winters. It is best to cover the plants with a pane of glass in wet winter areas. A slow-growing and short-lived perennial or biennial species. A polymorphic species. The leaves have a musky scent. The crushed leaves smell like a skunk.
Through seeds – sow spring in situ. In its first year, the plant appears as a group of leaves, which collect energy into the taproot, from which it rapidly grows in its second year.
Edible Uses: The plant has been boiled up as a tea. The nectar is sucked from the flowers by children.
The whole plant is cathartic and emetic. The leaves are steeped in hot water until the water turns a bright green, this liquid is taken in small doses as a tonic for the blood. An infusion of the whole plant has been used to treat blood diseases. A decoction has been used as a disinfectant wash on itchy skin. A poultice of the whole plant has been applied to rheumatic joints. An infusion of the roots is used as a laxative and in the treatment of high fevers, colds. Some Plateau Indian tribes boiled it as a drink for kidney health.
The plant is reported to contain saponins and so could possibly be used as a soap substitute. A decoction of the plant has been used as a face and hair wash by adolescent girls. The whole plant has been boiled up to make a glue.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.