Calochortus Plummerae Plummers Mariposa Lily


Calochortus plummerae, a monocot, is a perennial herb (bulb) that is an increasingly rare flower. It is not only native to California but endemic to the Golden State, as well, meaning it is not found outside of California. The lion’s share of these plants grow in Southern California; they are also present in some Transverse Ranches and Peninsular Ranges.
In San Bernardino County, Plummer’s mariposa lily is most often visible as a constituent of the chaparral, grasslands, and lower montane coniferous forest plant communities.
A slender-branched perennial that grows one to two feet tall from a bulb and has two to four erect, widely bell-shaped pink to rose flowers with three sepals and three sometimes irregularly-toothed and sometimes fringed petals, Plummer’s mariposa lily has an interior which is covered with long yellow hairs. Calochortus plummerae produces thin, branching stems and a few long curling, mostly basal leaves which grow to 16 inches long and ½ inches wide and are usually withered at the time of flowering.
Atop the stem is a lily bloom, and the petals it features are pink, lavender, or white with a wide yellow band across the middle. The center contains large whitish or yellowish anthers. The fruit capsule is up to 3.2 inches long.
Strikingly beautiful, this type of mariposa lily inhabits dry, rocky slopes, brushy areas and openings in chaparral below 5,000 feet. It may occasionally be found in coastal sage scrub to yellow pine forest from the Santa Monica Mountains to the San Jacintos, and blooms from May to July. It is described in the Jepson Manual as rare. The California Native Plant Society ranks this species in their list 1B: plants rare, threatened, or endangered in California and elsewhere. The plants of List 1B are rare throughout their range with the majority of them endemic to California. The numbers of observed Plummer mariposa lilies have declined significantly over the last century.
The species is named in honor of American botanist Sara Plummer Lemmon .
Calochortus plummerae is distinct from the mariposa lily: calochortus leichtlinii, another flower about which there was a previous article in the Sentinel’s county wildlife column.

Leave a Reply