Collinsia heterophylla Buist ex Graham
Purple Chinese Houses, Harlequin Blue-eyed Mary, Chinese Houses
Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)
USDA Symbol: COHE
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
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Annual
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 2 feet tall.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug
DistributionUSA: CA , IL , KY
Native Distribution: Cismontane CA
Native Habitat: A variety of shaded places below 2500 ft.
Growing ConditionsLight 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 InsectsSpecial Value to Native Bees
This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
PropagationDescription: 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 DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
Web ReferenceWebref 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 resourcesUSDA: Find Collinsia heterophylla in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Collinsia heterophylla in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Collinsia heterophylla
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-02-01
Research By: TWC Staff