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Calochortus kennedyi Porter
Desert Mariposa Lily, Desert Mariposa, Red Mariposa-lily, Flame Mariposa
Liliaceae (Lily Family)
USDA Symbol: CAKE
USDA Native Status: L48 (N)
The flowering stems of this bulbous perennial are 8 - 20 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.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 20 inches tall.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Red , Orange , Yellow
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun
DistributionUSA: 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 ConditionsLight 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.
BenefitUse Ornamental: Desert landscape
Use Food: Bulb consumed by indigenous peoples.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
PropagationDescription: Plant seed in late autumn in pots, flats or outdoor seed beds. Corms reach maturity in 3-5 years.
Seed Treatment: No treatment.
Commercially Avail: yes
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
BibliographyBibref 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 1218 - Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources (2006) Anderson, M. Kat
Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Web ReferenceWebref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Calochortus kennedyi in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Calochortus kennedyi in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Calochortus kennedyi
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-01-26
Research By: TWC Staff