Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

Mariposa Lily, Calochortus cf. elegans

from the the May 31, 2009 Newsletter, issued from the Siskiyou Mountains west of Grants Pass, Oregon:

Mariposa-Lilies: That's a group of wildflowers frequent in the West but not in the East. A very common one that's been flowering here about a month is shown above.

A close-up showing the flower's fuzzy-topped petals is below:

Mariposa Lily, Calochortus cf. elegans

The word mariposa is Spanish for "butterfly." Mariposa-Lilies belong to the genus Calochortus in the Lily Family. California's Jepson Manual describes about 40 Calochortus species for that state, while Weakley's Flora of the Carolinas, as with the above biscuitroots, lists none.

With available literature I can't decide whether what's in the photo is Calochortus elegans or C. tolmiei. An information board beside a local Forest Service botanical trail mentions only C. elegans, so maybe it's that one.

These species arise from bulbs that can be eaten raw or cooked. They can be baked or boiled like potatoes and have a sweet flavor.