Star Lily
Leucocrinum montanum Nutt. ex Gray
Family: Liliaceae, Lily
Genus: Leucocrinum
Other names: sand lily, mountain lily
Nomenclature: montanum = of mountains
Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant
Edible plant
Medicinal plant

General: stemless perennial, about 5-10 cm tall, with a short, deeply buried rhizome and fibrous roots, the flower stalks arising directly from the rhizome.

Leaves: basal, tufted, linear, grass-like, up to 20 cm long and 2-8 mm broad, strongly nerved and more or less white-edged, sheathed at base by membranous bracts.

Flowers: few to several from the base of the plant. Flowers fragrant, the 6 tepals white, linear-lanceolate to narrowly oblong-elliptic, 20-25 mm long and up to 7 mm broad, the lower part forming a long, slender tube mostly 5-8 cm long. Filaments very slender, about 10-12 mm long, anthers 4-6 mm long. April-June.

Fruits: capsule at or below ground level, obovoid, 3-angled, firm but elastic and corrugated, splitting along the middle of each of the 3 compartments, few-seeded, 5-7 mm long. Seeds black, shiny, 3-4 mm long.


Sagebrush desert to open montane forest, in sandy to rocky areas or in fairly heavy soil, but not where at all swampy, in w., c. and e. parts of MT. Also from OR to CA and NM, and across ID to SD.
Edible Uses

The roots of star lily were reportedly used for food by the Crow Indians.

Medicinal Uses

The Paiute and Shoshoni Indians used a poultice of the pulverized roots and applied it to sores and swellings.

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