Clintonia borealis (Aiton) Raf.
Bluebead, Yellow bluebead-lily, Clintonia, Blue-bead lily
Liliaceae (Lily Family)
Synonym(s): Dracaena borealis
USDA Symbol: CLBO3
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.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Size Class: 0-1 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: May , Jun
DistributionUSA: CT , GA , IL , IN , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
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 ConditionsWater 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.
BenefitUse 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
PropagationDescription: Usually propagated by dividing underground runners in fall or early spring, but may also be grown from seed planted immediately after ripening. Plant divisions 1 in. deep. Be careful when handling the rhizomes and roots, because they are brittle. Pulp-
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: Must be stratified; accomplished naturally by planting outdoors.
Commercially Avail: yes
Find Seed or Plants
View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.
National Wetland Indicator Status
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Clintonia borealis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Clintonia borealis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Clintonia borealis
MetadataRecord Modified: 2012-07-03
Research By: TWC Staff