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Calochortus [Kal-uh-KOR-tus] is a genus of plants in North America belonging to the family of Liliaceae.
These plants are often grown in masses providing a striking foreground against the herbs and grasses of open forests and mountain meadows.
Calochortus genus is a California native to San Luis Obispo, Modoc Plateau, and the Sierra Nevada, as well as Western Nevada and Southeastern Oregon.
This genus includes richly varied plants, such as:
- Calochortus Tolmiei
- Calochortus Elegans
- Calochortus Pulchellus
- Calochortus Argillosus
- Calochortus Venustus
- Calochortus Raichei
- Calochortus Persistens
- Calochortus Catalinae
- and more…
The common names for this native plant include:
- Mariposa Lily
- Star Tulip
- Sego Lily
- Globe Tulip
- Plain Mariposa Lily
- Smokey Mariposa
- Leichtlin’s Mariposa
- Butterfly Tulip
Mariposa Lily Care
Size & Growth
The Star Tulip produces unbranching, erect stem 4-8” inches tall.
The leaves of this plant are around 4” – 6” inches long and typically wither along with its flowers.
Flowering and Fragrance
The inflorescence in this genus are formed in loose clusters of one to five bell-shaped flowers.
Each petal grows 0.5” – 1.5” inches long.
The bloom time for these plants is typically between May to July.
Calochortus plants produce a variety of different flower shades depending on the local and regional populations.
The flowers of Mariposa Lilies – Calochortus Panamintensis, and Calochortus Albus (White Fairy Lantern) are white.
Calochortus Plummerae, Calochortus Palmeri, and Calochortus Splendens produce pink shaded flowers.
Calochortus Monophyllus (Yellow Star Tulip), Calochortus Amabilis, and Tiburon Mariposa Lily produce yellow-colored flowers.
Some varieties produce multiple shades in their flowers.
For instance, Calochortus Greenei grows pinkish-purple flowers, Calochortus Striatus flowers are white colored with pink lines on petals.
Light & Temperature
The Star Tulip, just like most of the plants in the Lily family, prefers full sunlight.
This plant has the ability to survive dry, hot conditions when growing on rocky outcrops where most of the other plants are unable to grow.
The USDA hardiness zones of this plant are 5 – 10.
Watering and Feeding
Water this plant sparingly throughout the dry summer, and increase the amount, if the conditions are not moist enough.
Stop watering when the foliage dies back, but resume from the winter to the spring seasons.
Be mindful when watering this plant as too much water may result in rotting.
Feed these plants throughout their growing period using a weak bulb food dilution.
If the tips of the leaves start turning yellow, especially in Mariposa Lilly, Winding Mariposa Lily, and Siskiyou Mariposa Lily then stop the feed immediately.
The yellowish tip is the sign of dormancy among these plants.
Soil & Transplanting
This plant genus grows optimal in loamy, sandy, slightly acidic, and well-draining soil.
The Mariposa Lily is also known to tolerate wildfires.
Once the upper part of this plant is destroyed, new growth quickly emerges from its bulb.
Moreover, it produces a higher amount of flowers than usual because of the higher amount of soil minerals and fewer plants around after a wildfire.
Grooming and Maintenance
The Calochortus plants are very easy to grow and maintain, without much maintenance.
However, make sure to provide these plants with the usual winter care in colder regions.
Avoid overwatering this plant and cut off dead leaves.
How to Propagate Calochortus Lily Plant
The propagation is a pretty long process for Mariposa Lily, as well as other species in the genus including:
- Calochortus Superbus
- Calochortus Coeruleus
- Calochortus Flexuosus
- Calochortus Gunnisonii
- Calochortus Luteus
The flowers of these plants shed their seeds during the fall season which are germinated during the winter rains.
It takes a bulb several years to reach maturity and produce flowers.
The seedlings are grown for at least two years, repotted and then grown for two years more.
Afterward, the plant must be planted in the garden.
Propagation through bulbs is quicker.
Take healthy bulbs and plant them during the spring or fall season at 5” inches depth.
Calochortus Lily Plant Pest or Diseases
The majority of the plants in Liliaceae family, including the Butterfly Tulip, Calochortus Tiburonensis, Calochortus Uniflorus, Calochortus Invenustus, and Calochortus Macrocarpus are vulnerable to flies, beetles, aphids, mites, and thrips.
Also, be on a lookout for different viruses and fungi, which typically harm the Liliaceae plants.
Mariposa Lily Uses
This plant looks excellent when grown in groups of its other varieties.
These plants work well when growing in perennial beds, borders, and native gardens.
Mariposa Lily also attracts butterflies and bees.
The plant has sweet-tasting bulbs which are eaten baked, boiled, roasted, and even raw among various Californian tribes including Wailaki, Foothill Yokuts, Tubatulabal, Wappo, Sierra Miwok, and Pomo.