There are five Collinsia, also commonly called blue-eyed Mary, species on the Table Rocks. Collinsia grandiflora is commonly known as large-flowered blue eyed Mary or giant blue-eyed Mary. Chinese pagoda, another colloquial name for this species, appeals to me more because the name is more distinctive than the usual adjective before “blue-eyed Mary”, so that is what I call C grandiflora. Unfortunately these early April specimens do not clearly illustrate the several interrupted levels of flowers, resembling a Chinese pagoda, that comprise the inflorescence.
A member of the Plantain Family, Chinese pagoda is an annual native found in British Columbia, Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho and Utah. Its preferred habitat is dry to moist grassy or rocky areas and the edges of coniferous forests at low to moderate elevations.
Chinese pagoda stems are erect and simple or branched. The opposite leaves are narrowly elliptical or nearly linear. The leaves are petioled (stalked) and become progressively sessile (lacking stalks) upward on the stem.
The pediceled (with a stalk), Chinese pagoda flowers are large compared to other blue-eyed Mary species. The blue-violet corolla has two lips, the upper composed of two lobes that are more squared and are white. The lower lip is three-lobed with the central lobe reduced in size. Four stamens and a superior ovary with one style and two stigma lobes are located within the lips. The corolla (petals collectively) is attached to the calyx (sepals collectively) at almost a right angle. The calyx is less than 2/3 the length of the corolla.
The fruit of Chinese pagoda is a capsule containing four seeds that opens along four lines.
Collinsia, the genus designation, honors the early American botanist Zacheus Collins (1764 – 1831). In Latin the species name means “large flower”.
These Chinese pagoda were photographed atop the Lower Table Rock near Medford Oregon.