The Chia

Chia seeds


Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave deserts of southern California, Nevada, southern Utah, southern Arizona and northwestern Mexico.


Sandy slopes and open desert areas below 4,000 feet.


Small, purple or deep blue flowers with prominent upper and lower lips bloom March through June at the top of leafless stems. Flowers are 1/2 inch long in dense, rounded clusters emerging from terminal spikes. After the blossoms have passed, the dried stems and heads shake out an abundance of small, gray seeds.


Chia a common name often used for several Salvia species and is sometimes confused with the variety of sages of the same genus.This unbranched annual grows 6 to 18 inches high. Like most members of the Mint (Labiatae) Family, Chia has square stems. They grow from green, oblong, mostly basal, many-lobed leaves about 4 inches long.

For centuries Chia was of great economic importance to Native Americans of the Southwest and California coast. The parched seeds of the Chia were ground to make the staple flour, pinole. Indians also placed the seeds in water to make mucilaginous poultices and beverages.

One tablespoon of chia seeds mixed in water was reputed to be sufficient nutrition to sustain for 24 hours, an Indian on a forced march. This cooling drink was also famous for assuaging a desperate thirst. An infusion of the seeds was valued by Spanish Missionaries as a fever remedy and as a poultice for gunshot wounds.

-- A.R Royo

We have an online wildflower field guide that is designed to help you identify desert wildflowers by color, scientific name, region and common name. The pictures are sized to work on the iPod, iPhone, iPad and similar devices. With your iPod or phone you will easily be able to identify wildflowers while in the desert. Links for downloads are on the bottom of the Wildflower Field Guide page.

Photo tips: Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a macro function - usually symbolized by the icon of a little flower. When you turn on that function, you allow your camera to get closer to the subject, looking into a flower for example. Or getting up close and personal with a bug. More on desert photography.

Mojave Desert Wildflowers - This book is the standard by which all other wildflower books are measured. The author, Jon Mark Stewart, has combined super photography with concise information. This book has an entire color page for each wildflower covered, with a discussion of the wildflower. 210 pages with 200 color photos. More...

What's Blooming Now - Check the Wildflower Reports



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