Plant Species of the Bright Angel Trail:
Clokey's gilia, Gilia clokeyi

See Plant Guide to Bright Angel Trail for an introduction to this page, especially the Introduction To These Species Pages.

These plants appear to be Gilia clokeyi, not the G. ophthalmoides I originally keyed these plants to. The text below has not yet been updated for that change. See the discussion here.

Synonyms: USDA Plants does not list any synonyms for this species, which is accepted as a valid taxon by USDA Plants, the 2005 Vascular Plants of Arizona, the Jepson Manual for California, and the 2001 Colorado Flora: Western Slope.

In the 2003 Utah Flora, this species is placed within a broadly-defined G. inconspicua, which also includes five other species (G. brecciarum, G. clokeyi, G. modocensis, G. sinuata, and G. transmontana). These other five species are also accepted as separate species in the other floras given above.

In Kearney and Peebles 1951, and McDougall 1964, this species was placed within a broadly-defined G. sinuata.


The name eyed gilia refers to the yellow throat being eye-like, according to Wilken and Porter. I'm not quite sure what is eye-like about the throat, unless it is the purple spots in the yellow throat. This name is a direct translation of the scientific name (ophthal as in ophthalmologist; -oidese meaning like something else).

Identification status: 100%.

It would have been nearly impossible for me to determine this gilia without the new treatment in the Vascular Plants of Arizona by Dieter Wilken and J. Mark Porter, since McDougall only has two true gilias in his Grand Canyon Flora, that were very broadly defined, whereas the 1987 Grand Canyon Checklist has nine gilia species, only seven of which seem to be present in the Kearney and Peebles key.

It appears that plants corresponding to Gilia ophthalmoides were treated under G. sinuata in Kearney and Peebles, which is a much different species (in the narrow sense). G. sinuata is very easy to distinguish from G. ophthalmoides, with a stem that is glabrous below middle, and cauline leaves expanded at the base, clasping its subtended branch. In contrast, G. ophthalmoides has a stem cobwebby at its base, and cauline leaves not expanded at the base, not clasping. (Many gilia species were only straightened out after the Kearney and Peebles flora, so it is not surprising that things were a bit confused in their flora.)

From the Wilken and Porter treatment, with my observations deduced from my photographs in each key element:

1' Most flowers pedicelled, spreading to ascending in open inflorescences
4' Lower stems and basal leaves cobwebby pubescent
6' Stems near base and basal leaf axils cobwebby-pubescent; cauline leaves not clasping; basal leaf rachis linear
7' Calyx glabrous
10' Calyx without purple streaks; not G. flavocincta since the flowers are long-pediceled
11' Basal and lower leaf lobes more than 1 mm wide, spreading at right angles to the rachis 12' Throat yellow; calyx lobes acuminate .................... G. ophthalmoides

I don't know for sure what is meant by the calyx having purple streaks. One of my flowers has a purplish calyx; the other has a green calyx. But the determination that goes with the purple streaks is G. flavocincta, which has its flowers in compact clusters or on short pedicels, unlike the plants here. The congested inflorescence, along with the mysterious purple streaks, seem to be the only characteristics that always distinguish G. flavocincta ssp. australis from G. ophthalmoides. Some plants of G. flavocincta can also be distinguished by their calyx lobes, ones at the attenuate end of their range from acuminate to attenuate, and some plants are also distinguished by their corolla lobes being yellow, or with purple flecks.

The plants here fit the Wilken and Porter description for G. ophthalmoides.

From a SEINet search on 16 May 2008, there are 15 vouchers of this species from the Coconino County portion of the Grand Canyon. The nearest are at: S rim of Grand Canyon at Hermits Rest; and Tusayan District. South rim of Grand Canyon.. Note that there may be additional vouchers at other herbaria not available through SEINet.

First occurrence on Bright Angel Trail: mile 1.95, elevation 5450 feet (1661 m).

Number of plants along Trail: at least 2 plants were found in at least 2 different locations in May 2008.


The plants in these pictures, like nearly all of the short plants immediately along the trail, were nearly completely covered in red trail dust in May 2008.

From 5 May 2008, mile 1.95:

Note the basal leaves in a rosette; flowers on longish pedicels, not clustered:

The cobwebby hairs are very apparent in this picture, densely covering the leaves and the lower part of the stem. The hairs have captured a lot of dust from the trail.

Note the acuminate calyx lobes; the corolla tube which comes to about the top of the calyx; the yellow throat with a purple spot at the top below each lobe, with the non-spotted upper part of the throat the same color as the lobes. Note also the interesting purplish stalked glands, which are also present in G. flavocincta.

From 6 May 2008, mile 2.01:

Note the stamens are inserted in the sinuses of the corolla lobes:

There are no purple spots in the throat of this specimen. Purple spots are often variably present in gilias.

The corolla throat is a bit exserted from the top of the calyx for this flower, unlike the previously-shown flowers:


See Resources for Grand Canyon Flora for further information on most of these references. Entries in the second column are either the name used in that source or a page reference. The name is linked to online pages when available. If a given reference does not contain this taxon, the entry is either left blank or contains a hyphen.

Go to:

Copyright © 2008; id changed in 2023 by Tom Chester.
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to me at this source:
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Last Update: 16 May 2008 (id changed on 11 May 2023)