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Calochortus venustus (Butterfly mariposa lily)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Calochortus venustus

Calochortus venustus Douglas ex Benth.

Butterfly Mariposa Lily, Square Mariposa Lily, White Mariposa Lily

Liliaceae (Lily Family)

Synonym(s): Calochortus venustus var. carolii, Calochortus venustus var. purpurascens, Calochortus venustus var. sanguineus, Calochortus venustus var. sulphureus

USDA Symbol: CAVE3

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

This species has a greater color range than most Calochortus spp., but is most often white. Each petal has a dark red blotch, often surrounded by paler blotches. The stems of this bulbiferous perennial are branched and bear grass-like leaves. Flowers occur in groups of 1-3.

The Square Mariposa Lily is a member of the lily family (family Liliaceae). Lilies are mostly perennial herbs from rhizomes, bulbs, or corms. The family is extremely complex and botanists estimate 250 genera and 4,000-6,000 species. Many, including tulips and day lilies, are handsome ornamentals. Asparagus, Sarsaparilla, onions, and the medicinally useful Aloe are from the family. A few species are poisonous.


From the Image Gallery

8 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 2 feet tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Red , Pink , Yellow , Purple
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul


Native Distribution: S. & c. Sierra foothills & s. & c. Coast Ranges of CA
Native Habitat: Grasslands; hot foothill woodlands; 1000-8000 ft.

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Description: Light, sandy soil; often decomposed granite
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. Needs protection from gophers and moles.


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


Record Modified: 2023-01-31
Research By: TWC Staff

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