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Purple Chinese Houses
Collinsia heterophylla
About Purple Chinese Houses (Collinsia heterophylla) Nurseries Show All Photos Collinsia heterophylla (syn. C. bicolor) is a flowering plant native to California and Baja California. It is known as Purple Chinese Houses or Innocence. Like the other species in the genus Collinsia, which also includes the Blue-eyed Marys, it gets its name from its towers of flower clusters, of decreasing diameter, which give the plants in full flower a certain resemblance to a pagoda. Purple Chinese Houses is an annual plant growing in shady places, and can be found in most of California, other than desert regions, below about 1000 meters. It blooms from mid spring to early summer. The plant is from 10-50 centimeter tall.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Annual herb

Max. Height
0.33 - 1.6 ft (0.1 - 0.49 m)

Max. Width
4 in (10cm)

Upright Columnar


Growth Rate

Flower Color
Blue, Lavender, Purple

Flowering Season
Spring, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Shady places, meadows, disturbed places, recently burned areas, often beneath oaks or large shrubs, near seeps or ponds

Part Shade, Sun

Elevation ?
-3814' - 11310'

Annual Precip. ?
4.9" - 70.3"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 3.00"

Coldest Month ?
24.6° F - 57.7° F

Hottest Month ?
45.5° F - 84.4° F

Humidity ?
0.39 vpd - 35.52 vpd

Soil Description
Prefers rich, loamy soil

Soil Texture
Clay Loam, Loam, Loamy Sand, Sandy Clay Loam, Sandy Loam

Soil PH
5.0 - 6.0


Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 0° F

Sunset Zones ?
5*, 6*, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22*, 23*, 24*

Companion Plants
Chinese Houses occurs as an understory with oaks and other trees. Other plants that occur with it include various native ferns, Clarkia spp, Sisyrinchium spp, and other annual wildflowers

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

Water Requirement ?
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Very Popular

Max. Summer Water ?

No Summer Water
Keep moist

Propagation ?
Because this is an annual, it is best propagated from seed in Fall in an area that has already been cleared of weeds. A very light layer of organic mulch will allow seedlings to push through. It will typically reseed itself each year.

Common uses
Butterfly Gardens, Bee Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names
Harlequin Blue Eyed Mary, Innocence

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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