?Linanthus nuttallii or gilia nuttallii?

Submitted by CScott on Sat, 11/12/2011 - 06:02

This plant showed up last summer and I am having trouble identifying it.
It might have come in as part of a mix.


Submitted by Mark McD on Sat, 11/12/2011 - 11:02

Hello Caroline,

I love a good mystery, and this one just sent me down a long review of the genus Linanthus; I blissfully while away the hours when I'm supposed to be working and studying this weekend!  Even though these are annuals, I'm totally smitten with their charm and now want to create a sandy/rocky bed for these little delights.  Seems that most of them are Californian, although there are species that range throughout the western states, and most species are now designated as Leptosiphon.  Since I give a bunch of CalPhoto links here, they still use Linanthus rather than Leptosiphon, so I will refer to them here as Linanthus.

I think you were close with Linanthus nuttallii (and there are 4 subspecies, so this plant takes many forms).

Once I combed through some floras and the CalPhotos, I believe the closest match is Linanthus grandiflorus.  It also looks similar to L. nuttallii and L. pachyphyllus, but I'd bet money on L. grandiflorus.  :)

Linanthus grandiflorus
...great closeup:

Linanthus nuttallii (bushier, leaf internodes closer together)
...some forms are rather dense growing:

Linanthus pachyphyllus
...based on the closeup detail, the involucre bracts and terminal leaves are more entire, less dissected:

To while away hours of Linanthus oogling, start here:

Submitted by Lori S. on Sat, 11/12/2011 - 12:08

Wow, what an incredible set of photos at Calflora (the last link)... I'm smitten too! 
I hope your plant produces seed, Caroline - it's very pretty.

Submitted by Mark McD on Sun, 11/13/2011 - 11:59

Lori wrote:

Does anyone know of a source that offers a good assortment of Linanthus sp. seed?

After a quickie google search, found this one, lots of nice colorful California annuals; I would welcome many of them to color up the summer garden if they'd grow... they do have Linanthus grandiflorus, said to be very fragrant, and in several tinges of color.

Now promise me Lori, you're not going to buy them out before I've had a chance!  ;)

Submitted by Lori S. on Sun, 11/13/2011 - 12:08

Oh, come now, would I do that?!? ;D ;D
I'm very tempted to get the wildflower mixes to cast around in an empty spot or two.  (Imagine that... wildflower mixes made of actual native wildflowers.  ;))

Submitted by Mark McD on Sun, 11/13/2011 - 12:19

Holy moly, I was googling around for Linanthus seed, and discovered that a version of Abram's "An Illustrated Flora of the Pacific States" is completely online, for free, as a Google eBook.  This link should take you to the Linanthus section, with L. grandiflorus found on Page 426!


Submitted by Hoy on Sun, 11/13/2011 - 12:24

Lori wrote:

Oh, come now, would I do that?!? ;D ;D
I'm very tempted to get the wildflower mixes to cast around in an empty spot or two.   (Imagine that... wildflower mixes made of actual native wildflowers.  ;))

Tell me, Lori, do you say that Californian wildflowers are native to your Albertan pastures? :o

I have tried to spread annuals around both native and foreign but the problem is: I have no empty space!

Submitted by Lori S. on Sun, 11/13/2011 - 12:41

Hoy wrote:

Tell me, Lori, do you say that Californian wildflowers are native to your Albertan pastures? :o

I meant that all the species in the mix are native to the same place/habitat, presumably, as opposed to so many so-called "wildflower" mixes that are half European weed species!

Submitted by penstemon on Sun, 11/13/2011 - 13:44

I posted my response to the leptodactylon thread by mistake. The plant pictured is Linanthus grandiflorus. An annual, you just scatter the seed and sometimes get a very impressive stand.


Submitted by CScott on Mon, 11/14/2011 - 16:29

Thanks for the help with my mystery Linanthus or mystery Leptosiphon.
And thanks for the links to while away a snowy afternoon in Alberta.