Calochortus nuttallii aureus (S.Watson) Ownbey
Common Name: Mariposa Lily
Calochortus aureus is a herbaceous perennial plant producing a cluster of grass-like basal leaves 10 - 20cm long from an underground bulb. A flowering stem 10 - 30cm long is produced as the leaves wither[
The plant was a traditional food of the native N. Americans and often eaten in quantity. It is grown as an ornamental, valued for its attractive flowers.
South-western N. America - Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.
Dry sandy-clayey places; at elevations from 1,200 - 2,000 metres[
]. Mesas, slopes and open pine forests in Arizona.
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Calochortus aureus is native to semi-arid climates in western N. America, growing in freely draining soils. Whilst being very cold hardy, it can be a rather difficult plant to cultivate in moister temperate climates, being very intolerant of wetness especially when dormant.
Requires a deep very well-drained fertile sandy soil in a sunny position and must be kept dry over winter[
]. In moist climates it is usually easier to grow this species in a bulb frame, though it is worth trying outdoors at the base of a south-facing wall, especially with shrubs that like these conditions[
Bulbs frequently divide after flowering, the bulblets taking 2 years to reach flowering size[
Bulbs can be lifted as soon as the foliage dies down and then stored overwinter in a cool dry place, replanting in spring[
When grown in cultivation, hand pollination is usually necessary if seed is required[
Bulb - raw[
]. The bulbs are gathered in early spring and peeled before being eaten[
]. No more details are given.
Seed - sow as soon as ripe or early spring in a cold frame in a very sharply draining medium. Stratification may be helpful. Germination usually takes place within 1 - 6 months at 15°c[
]. Leave the seedlings undisturbed for their first two years growth[
], but give them an occasional liquid feed to ensure they do not become nutrient deficient. It is quite difficult to get the seedlings through their first period of dormancy since it is all too easy either to dry them out completely or keep them too moist when they will rot[
]. After their second year of growth, pot up the dormant bulbs in late summer and grow them on for at least another 2 years in the greenhouse before trying them outside. Seedlings take about 5 - 7 years to come into flower[
Division of the bulbs as soon as the foliage dies down. One report says that the bulbs must be planted into their permanent positions immediately[
], whilst another says that they can be stored overwinter and replanted in the spring[
Stem bulbils, harvested from the stems after flowering[
]. They can be stored cool and dry then planted in pots in the cold frame in the spring.