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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 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

11 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 20 inches tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Orange , Yellow
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun


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 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

Web Reference

Webref 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 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: 2023-01-26
Research By: TWC Staff

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