Erythronium grandiflorum Pursh
Other names: dogtooth violet, avalanche lily, fawn lily, snow lily, trout lily
General: perennial, the stems 10-40 cm tall, leafless,
unbranched, from deep, elongated, bulb-like corms. Often
growing in large patches.
Leaves: basal, 1 pair, bright green, not mottled, narrowly
to broadly oblong-elliptic, 10-20 cm long, narrowed rather
gradually to broad stalks.
Flowers: usually solitary, nodding. Tepals lanceolate,
4-8 mm broad near the base, cream to bright yellow, 25-35
mm long, curved backward. Filaments white, linear, the
anthers white, yellow or brown, or somewhat purplish, up to
10-12 mm long before opening and scarcely half as long
afterward. Style slender, stigmas rather thick, 1-2 mm long,
Flowering time: April-August.
Fruits: capsules, erect, 3-sided, club-shaped, 3-4 cm
Moist, shaded to open sites, sagebrush slopes to montane
forest, sometimes to near treeline, in w. and s.c. parts of
MT. Also from s. B.C., WA and OR to WY and CO.
Edible and Medicinal plant, see below.
(click on image for full size)
(click on images for full size)
The bulb-like underground stems,
called corms, were an important food for some tribes, and dried
bulbs were a popular trade item. They are edible raw, but like onions,
they are made sweeter and more easily digestible by cooking. Drying
also helps this process. The corms sometimes cause a burning sensation,
and too many can cause vomiting. The leaves are also edible raw
or cooked, and the fresh, green seed pods are said to taste like
string beans when cooked, but most tribes used only the corms. Bears
and rodents eat the roots and the seed pods are grazed by deer and
The pulverized root was applied to boils and as a wet dressing on skin sores by the Montana Indians. The Okanagan-Colville tribe used the corms as a treatment for bad colds.
ssp. candidum Piper:
Tepals white or cream with yellow band at base.
ssp. grandiflorum Pursh:
Tepals pale to deep yellow. Stigmas 1-2 (3) mm. long.
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