Ipomopsis aggregata subsp. formosissima

Skyrocket - Ipomopsis aggregata subsp. formosissima
Carbonate Creek Drainage
Black Range, NM, USA
August 11, 2015

We found the Skyrockets, Ipomopsis aggregata subsp. formosissima, pictured here along Carbonate Creek on the east side of the Black Range on August 11, 2015.  This species has a number of scientific synonyms, most arising from the time it was placed in the Gilia genus.  Its common names include Skyrocket, Scarlet Trumpet, Honeysuckle, and Scarlet Gilia.  Ipomopsis means “similar to Ipomoea”.  Ipomoea is the genus of Morning Glories.  So the genus derives from how the plant looks, how about “Honeysuckle”.  It seems that like Honeysuckle flowers, it is possible to suck nectar from the base of the flower.

This species is one of a select few which were first described from specimens collected in the Black Range.  It was first described by Edward Lee Greene as Callisteris formosissima.  Some sources consider the proper name of the first specimen, shown below, to be “unresolved”.  As noted on the sheet Orrick Baylor (O. B.) Metcalfe collected this specimen at about 9,000’ on September 11, 1904.

The Missouri Botanical Garden, Tropicos, recognizes Callisteris formosissima and Ipomopsis aggregata subsp. formosissima as the same plant.  The current classification of this plant was determined by Edgar Theodore Wherry.

The University of Michigan ethnobotany site does not have listings for this subspecies, but does have listings for the species.  The various tribes used it for a variety of medicinal purposes, a few as a food source, and some to make glue.

The USDA-NRCS site lists the range of this subspecies as the west coast of the United States and the states of the American Southwest.  The BONAP map (right) shows the range of the species to be comparable to that of the subspecies, except that the subspecies does not extended into Montana, Idaho, the Pacific Northwest, or Wyoming.  The range of this subspecies extends into northern Mexico.

This is a plant species of fairly high elevations, generally being found between 5,000’ and 10,000’.

Hillsboro Peak Trail at Cross-O Mountain
September 2, 2023

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