WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 
 

Go treasure hunting and look or this dainty lily in open exposures from foothills to high elevations in the northern half of the state. Erect 8–20-inch tall stems sprout from a bulb with 1–3 white to purple flowers, each with yellow hairs and often a purple band in the throat. Favorable conditions can produce mass blooming. White flowers are the most common and widespread in the Sandia and Manzanos mountains. Purple specimens grow in the Valles Caldera, and the  yellow flowering var. perpulcher grows in the Sangre de Cristo mountains.


FLOWERS: May–July. Cup-shaped flowers have 3 white to purple , rounded, petals, 1 1/4–1 3/4-inches wide (3–4.5 cm), separated by 3 pointed sepals. A thin, continuous purple band circles the top of the hairy, yellowish lower half of each petal, and a purple blotch dots the base. (Flowers in the Sandia Mts. often lack the purple marks.) Note the yellow, beard-like hairs have noticeably enlarged tips, and the 6 anthers are broad with sharp points. Fruit is an erect, 3-angled capsule. The variety perpulcher has yellow petals.


LEAVES: Basal, narrow linear blades, 7–14 inches (18–35 cm) long, wither early; stem blades smaller.


HABITAT: Sandy, rocky soils; open slopes, meadows, pine-fir to subalpine forests.


ELEVATION: 6,900–10,800 feet.


RANGE: AZ, CO, MT, NE, NM, SD, UT, WY.


SIMILAR SPECIES: 5 species of Calochortus in NM. The similar C. ambiguous, in western NM, has pinkish-white to bluish petals with narrow anthers; Sego Lily, C. nuttallii, in northern NM and the Boothill, has white petals with a broken maroon crescent band above the yellow base; C. flexuosus, in the nw and sw corners of NM, has sprawling stems and pinkish petals with a hairy orange zone surrounded by yellow, and a maroon blotch at base; C. aureus, in nw NM, has lemon-yellow petals with a maroon band.


NM COUNTIES: In the northern half and sw NM in mid- to high-elevation habitats: Bernalillo, Catron, Colfax, Grant, Los Alamos, Luna, McKinley, Mora, Rio Arriba, San Juan, San Miguel, Sandoval, Santa Fe, Socorro, Taos, Torrance, Union.

GUNNISON'S  MARIPOSA  LILY

CALOCHORTUS  GUNNISONII

Lily Family, Liliaceae

Perennial herb

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Sinuous Mariposa, C. flexuosus, in the creosote and sagebrush scrub of the nw and sw corners of NM, has sprawling, flexible stems and pinkish petals with a hairy orange zone surrounded by yellow, and a maroon blotch at base.

Sego Lily, C. nuttallii, in northern NM and the Boothill, has pointed white petals with broken maroon crescent band above the yellow basal spot.

Golden Mariposa, C. aureus, in nw NM, has lemon-yellow petals with a maroon band.

SIMILAR SPECIES

Hairs have enlarged tips (lower arrow).

Anthers are broad with sharp tips (upper two arrows).

Mariposa Lilies in the Sandia Mountains often lack the purple markings.

Purple Mariposa Lily occur in Valles Caldera National Preserve, NM

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