Any of numerous plants of the genus Gilia or related genera of the phlox family Polemoniaceae, which are chiefly low-growing herbs of desert habitats in North and South America, and are cultivated as ornamentals for their flowers. Frequently with distinguishing word. Also (in form Gilia): the genus itself.
Early 19th century. From scientific Latin Gilia, genus name from the name of Filippo Luigi Gilii, Italian priest and scientist + -a.