Mariposa Lily

If Harebells are cute and Sugarbowl clematis is sweet, the word for this flower is elegant.

Calochortus gunnisonii

We’ve called these Sego lilies for two decades, but with this bloom-a-day-in-July project I’ve been cross-examining my assumptions while delving into a wider range of wildflower resources. Evidently, what we have here (in large numbers, right now) are Gunnison’s Mariposa Lily and not Sego Lily (C. nuttalli). The latter have a dark spot at the base of each of the three petals, and the hairs are arranged to form a crescent, rather than creating a contiguous band, as in these Mariposa Lilies.

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4 Responses to Mariposa Lily

  1. Pat Dubrava says:

    This one is gorgeous: elegant indeed!

  2. Common names are so confounding, Andrea. According to my native plant guide of the Rocky Mountains, both Calochortus gunnisonii and Calochortus nuttallii are called Sego Lily, but the former is also known as Mariposa Lily and the latter as Nuttall’s Mariposa. It doesn’t get any more confusing than that!

  3. Andrea Jones says:

    They’re just so danged striking out there in the grass, Pat. The stems are very slim, and they appear to float.

  4. Andrea Jones says:

    I know, Tanja, the common names will make your head spin–as will the Latin, unfortunately. If nothing else, the names point in the direction of a possible label, which I think is useful. In a way, the uncertainty can draw you in, make you pay attention to different features: I’ve dug deeper and paid closer attention to those plants/flowers whose names I’m least sure about.

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