Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Clintonia borealis

Bluebead, Yellow bluebead-lily, Clintonia, Blue-bead lily

Liliaceae (Lily Family)

Clintonia borealis (Bluebead)
Smith, R.W.
A basal clump of three to five thick, shiny, oval leaves surrounds an 8-15 in. leafless stem topped by a cluster of nodding, pale yellow-green flowers. The stalk rises from a basal set of shiny, bright green, oblong leaves and has at its summit 3-6 yellowish-green, drooping, bell-like flowers. Bright blue, spherical berries follow the flowers.

The cluster of beautiful fruits are noted for their extraordinary true-blue color. The plant was named in honor of the former governor of New York, DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828). A less common species, White Clintonia (C. umbellulata), has numerous, erect, white flowers and black berries.

Image Gallery:

13 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Blue
Size Class: 0-1 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: May , Jun


USA: CT , GA , IL , IN , ME , MD , MA , MI , MN , NH , NJ , NY , NC , OH , PA , RI , TN , VT , VA , WV , WI
Canada: NB , NL , NS , ON , PE
Native Distribution: Lab. to Man., s. to New England, mountains of GA & TN, MI & MN
Native Habitat: Damp, coniferous woods & bogs; sometimes deciduous and birch-fir woods; sub-alpine meadows

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Deep, damp, cold leafmold.
Conditions Comments: Difficult to grow where summer temperatures are substantially above 75 degrees. In appropriate environments, clintonia provides an attractive ground cover. Benefits from a heavy einter mulch of mixed pine and deciduous leaves. Watch for slugs and snails.


Use Wildlife: Chipmunks and birds relish the berries.
Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: Berries suspect, caution. No known cases. Toxic Principle: Unknown; suspected due to relation to toxic plants.

The plant was named in honor of the former governor of New York, DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828). (Niering)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Last Update: 2012-07-03