WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 

This spectacular member of the Lily family reaches 12-inches tall and looks like it should be in a formal garden instead of the arid high desert scrublands and foothills. Look for 1–4 blooms on a stem to 12-inches tall and flowers with white petals and a maroon crescent band above the hairy, yellow base. Calochortus is Greek for “beautiful herb.”


FLOWER: May–June. Cup-shaped, white (often tinged with lilac or pale yellow), or occasionally pink flowers have 3 rounded petals, 1 1/4–1 3/4-inches wide (3–4.5 cm), separated by 3 pointed sepals. Broad purple to brown, crescent bands circle the hairy yellow base. Note the hairs have only slightly dilated tips, and the 6 yellowish to pinkish anthers are narrow with blunt tips. Fruit is an erect, 3-angled capsule.


LEAVES: Basal,  alternate on stem. Blades linear 4–8 inches long (10–20 cm), narrow (2–4 mm wide), often folded inward. Stem leaves smaller.


HABITAT: Sandy, gravelly, alluvial loam soils, slopes, hills, mesas; sagebrush and creosote scrub, pinyon-juniper, ponderosa-oak woodlands.


ELEVATION: 4,800–9,800 feet.


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


SIMILAR SPECIES: 5 species of Calochortus in NM. Mariposa Lily, C. gunnisonii, has broad anthers with sharp points and hairs with enlarged tips. Doubting Mariposa Lily, C. ambiguous, in western NM, has pinkish-white to bluish petals with narrow anthers; C. flexuosus, in the creosote and sagebrush scrub of the nw and sw corners of NM, has sprawling stems and pinkish petals with a hairy orange zone surrounded by yellow with a maroon blotch at base; C. aureus, in nw NM, has lemon-yellow petals with a maroon band.


NM COUNTIES: In northern and extreme sw NM in mid-elevation dry habitats: Colfax, Grant, Hidalgo, Los Alamos, McKinley, Mora, Rio Arriba, San Juan, San Miguel, Sandoval, Santa Fe, Taos, Torrance.

SEGO  LILY

CALOCHORTUS  NUTTALLII

Lily Family, Liliaceae

Perennial herb

Anthers are narrow with blunt tips (top arrow).

Yellow hairs have only slightly dilated tips (right arrow).

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