Calochortus – Mariposa Lily
Mariposa-lilies are perennial herbs growing from deep-seated, concentric-layered bulbs. The leaves are few, linear, concave-convex in cross-section or flat, reduced upwards on the stem. The plants have solitary flowers or few together on a bracted and sometimes branched stem. The flowers are mostly showy, erect, white or lavender in our species. The flower segments are separated, unlike, the outer 3 (sepals) narrow and green, the inner 3 (petals) broad and colored, usually spotted or patterned in contrasting shades like the wings of a butterfly, more or less hairy on the inner face, and with a characteristic, often hairy depression (the gland) near the base. There are 6 stamens in 2 series, the anthers shaped oblong to linear, round-tipped to slender-tipped, attached by the base. The filaments are awl-shaped, slightly joined at the base to the flower segments. The ovary is triangular to 3-winged, 3-celled, abruptly narrowed or tapering to a persistent 3-parted stigma. The seed capsule is round to linear, 3-angled to 3-winged, erect or nodding, many-seeded, splitting open along the partition between each compartment.
The genus consists of about 60 species of w. N. America from Canada to Guatemala. The name comes from the Greek kalo, beautiful, and chortos, grass, in reference to the remarkable beauty of the flowers in nearly all species.
Guide to Identify Presented Species of Genus Calochortus
C. gunnisonii – Gunnison's Mariposa-lily
Stem 10-30 cm tall, simple. Grasslands and open coniferous forests. Flowers white, 1 to few, 4-7 cm wide, with 3 broad petals, greenish within. Leaves: few, small, grass-like, alternate. Medicinal plant, all parts edible.
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