Fringed Redmaids (Ciliata)

The Fringed Redmaids (Ciliata) is generally described as an annual forb/herb. This is native to the U.S. (United States) .

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Ethnobotanic: Redmaid seeds and greens were an important food source for many tribes in California including those whose territory neighbored the Salinan. Given their importance and their abundance, they were undoubtedly utilized by the Salinan as well. The shiny black seeds were a major ingredient in pinole (from the Aztec word for seed flour, pinolli) and were valued for their high oil content. The Chumash called the seed xutash or pil (Timbrook 1986). The name pil is reported in Onlone usage for redmaid seeds (Bocek 1984). Fages (1937) names pil as the seed of a plant used by the Salinan.

The Miwok harvested the seeds in early summer (Barrett & Gifford1933). The plants were pulled and spread out on a clean area to dry. The seeds were separated by shaking or hitting the plants over the cleaned area or into a basket. Then they were placed into a tightly woven winnowing basket where they were tossed, allowing the moving air to remove any chaff. The seeds were then dried for storage or parched in a cooking basket along with hot coals. The contents were kept in motion to prevent the coals from burning the basket. The parched seeds were pulverized in bedrock mortars into an oily meal, which was then prepared into balls and cakes.

Large quantities of Calandrinia ciliata seeds have been recovered by archaeologists in burial sites in Chumash territory in the Channel Islands of Southern California (Timbrook 1993). Not only were the seeds used as ceremonial offerings, as evidenced by these burial sites, but also they are often mentioned in Chumash myths (Timbrook 1990).

The LuiseƱo ate the tender young greens fresh (Sparkman 1908), which are said to taste similar to arugula. Fringed redmaid greens contain oxalic acid, like spinach, and should be eaten sparingly. Cooking reduces the amount of oxalic acid.

Wildlife: Many insects, small mammals, and birds, including wild doves (Zenaida spp), eat the seeds.

Domestic animals: Cattle readily graze on fringed redmaid plants.

General Characteristics

General: Purslane family (Portulacaceae). Fringed redmaids are annual forbs native to the Western United States, Central America, and northern South America.

These low growing, spreading plants vary in height (15 to 33 cm) depending on environmental conditions. The leaves are alternately arranged leaves and lance shaped (1 to 10cm long). The flowers growing in loose racemes appear in the early spring. The five, notched petals (4 to 15mm long) are rosy red with darker veins. The fruits bear 10 to 20 small (1 to 2.5mm wide) shiny black seeds.

Required Growing Conditions

For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

Habitat: Fringed redmaids thrive in open grasslands as well as disturbed areas and cultivated fields below 2200m.

Adaptation Calandrinia ciliata is an early colonizer of disturbed areas. It increases in abundance following a fire because of the increase in nutrients and the decrease in competing grasses. The native Californians burned grasslands periodically to increase harvests of redmaids as well as other fire-following species.


Weediness This plant may become weedy or invasive in some regions or habitats and may displace desirable vegetation if not properly managed.

Plant Basics
General Type Forb/herb
Growth Duration Annual
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA