Hesperocallis undulata A. Gray

Desert Lily
Agavaceae (Agave Family)


Desert lily or zygadene is a slender, glabrous-stemmed perennial herb developing from a ± spheric dark-brown to black-colored bulb and somewhat resembling an onion but without the smell or taste.  The unbranched erect stems are typically 12" to 20" high. The basal leaves are 12" long and folded, and the upper ones shorter.  The flowers are on pedicels to 1-1/4" long and the six elliptic perianth segments are much alike, yellowish to greenish-white with stamens that are not quite as long as the perianth and styles that are spreading or recurved.  Desert lily is common below 5000' on sandy flats and mesas of creosote bush scrub and joshua tree woodland of the s. and w. Mojave Desert, but may also be found in the Colorado Desert.  It blooms in April and May, but may bloom earlier if conditions are right.  These pictures are from the eastern part of the Mojave National Preserve.

Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Hesperocallis 2) undulata.
Pronunciation: hes-per-oh-KAL-is un-dew-LAY-ta.
Click here for Botanical Term Meanings.