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Collinsia heterophylla (Purple chinese houses)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Collinsia heterophylla

Collinsia heterophylla Buist ex Graham

Purple Chinese Houses, Harlequin Blue-eyed Mary, Chinese Houses

Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Lush white, rose & purple blooms are tiered in whorls near the top of the 2 ft. stalks of this annual. Bilaterally symmetrical flowers in several widely spaced whorls at top of a sparsely leafy stem. The flowers have a lilac or white upper lip and a rose-purple or violet lower lip. Bright-green, lance-shaped leaves clasp the stem. A velvety fuzz often covers the entire plant, including the flowers.

Few of California's spectacular wildflowers are as charming as this one. The flowers grow in perfect rings of widely spaced bands around the stem, forming a fairytale pagoda, the "Chinese houses." There are about 20 Collinsia species, most in California, distinguished from other genera by the corolla's folded middle lower lobe. In this respect it resembles members of the Pea Family, which, however, have 5 petals not joined into a tubular base, and usually 10 stamens rather than 4.


From the Image Gallery

11 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Annual
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 2 feet tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug


Native Distribution: Cismontane CA
Native Habitat: A variety of shaded places below 2500 ft.

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Description: Various slightly humusy soils.
Conditions Comments: The flowering season can be prolonged by removing the withering flowers before the fruit has set. Where well-established and allowed to seed, this species will form permanent colonies.

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Description: Sow seeds in both the fall and early spring for the maximum season of flowering.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Collinsia heterophylla in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Collinsia heterophylla in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Collinsia heterophylla


Record Modified: 2023-02-01
Research By: TWC Staff

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