Calochortus venustus Benth.

Butterfly Mariposa Lily
Liliaceae (Lily Family)


Butterfly mariposa lily is an erect, usually branched, bulbiferous perennial growing to about 2' tall.  Its basal leaves are few, 4"-8" long, narrow, and usually withering.  The upper leaves are reduced.  There are one to three erect flowers with a perianth which is campanulate to cup-shaped, three green sepals with recurved tips, and a corolla of three obovate and somewhat clawed petals that are white, yellow, purple or dark red. Each petal has a pale reddish spot toward the apex, and a second, darker red spot below which is yellow-margined and set in a red-lined blotch that covers the basal part of the petal.  That portion of the petal also contains longish scattered hairs.  The gland is ± square in outline and is not depressed.  There are six stamens with anthers that are up to 3" long and three united carpels forming a single pistil.  The fruit is an erect, linear capsule, > 2" long.  Butterfly mariposa lily is not especially common but may be found in light or sandy soils within an altitudinal range of 1000' to 8000' in valley grassland, foothill woodland, and yellow pine forest, blooming from April to July. It does not extend much further south than Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Mountains.  It is a spectacularly beautiful species, and highly variable in color and markings.  These pictures were taken in Towsley Canyon Park in the Santa Clarita Woodlands.

Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Calochortus 2) venustus.
Pronunciation: kal-o-KOR-tus ven-OOS-tus.
Click here for Botanical Term Meanings.