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Calochortus kennedyi (Desert mariposa lily) | NPIN

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Calochortus kennedyi (Desert mariposa lily)
Flaigg, Norman G.

Calochortus kennedyi

Calochortus kennedyi Porter

Desert mariposa lily, Desert mariposa, Red mariposa-lily, Flame mariposa

Liliaceae (Lily Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

The flowering stems of this bulbous perennial are up to 8 in. long and sometimes twisted. Leaves are waxy and grass-like. During years when temperature and rainfall is right, silky, deep-orange to yellow-orange, three-petaled flowers appear. In an umbel-like cluster on top of short stems bloom 1-6 handsome bell-shaped, vermilion, orange, or yellow flowers. Each flower has a large, dark spot at the base.

One of the most brilliant of the mariposa lilies. In California, vermilion flowers are most frequent; orange flowers are more common eastward. The yellow phase is found throughout the range, especially at higher elevations.


Plant Characteristics

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

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Orange
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May


USA: AZ , CA , NV , UT
Native Distribution: AZ, NV, Kane Co., UT, s. CA & adjacent Mex.
Native Habitat: Open or brushy flats; rocky slopes; deserts; 2000-4500 ft.

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Dry, heavy or rocky, well-drained soils.
Conditions Comments: All Calochortus spp. are extremely difficult in cultivation. Flowering bulbs must be raised from seed for any success and bulbs must be kept completely dry from mid-summer to late fall. Bulbs will need protection from gophers and moles.


Use Ornamental: Desert landscape
Use Food: Bulb consumed by indigenous peoples.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes


Description: Plant seed in late autumn in pots, flats or outdoor seed beds. Corms reach maturity in 3-5 years.
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: No treatment.
Commercially Avail: yes

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA

Recommended Species Lists

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Additional resources

USDA: Find Calochortus kennedyi in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Calochortus kennedyi in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Calochortus kennedyi


Record Modified: 2008-10-20
Research By: TWC Staff

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