Calochortus nuttallii, commonly known as Sego lily or Mariposa lily, is a flowering plant species native to North America, particularly in the western United States and Canada. It is a member of the genus Calochortus, which is part of the Liliaceae family. Here are some key characteristics and information about Calochortus nuttallii:
Appearance: Sego lilies are known for their striking, bell-shaped flowers. The flowers have three petals (tepals) and come in various colors, including white, cream, pink, lavender, or even yellow. They often have a central dark spot or "eye" on each petal. The plants typically reach a height of 8 to 16 inches (20 to 40 cm).
Habitat: These lilies are primarily found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, sagebrush steppe, open woodlands, and foothills. They can thrive in a range of soil types.
Range: Calochortus nuttallii is native to western North America. Its range extends from British Columbia in Canada southward through the western United States, including states like Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and parts of California.
Blooming Season: Sego lilies typically bloom in late spring to early summer, producing their beautiful flowers during this period.
Historical Significance: The Sego lily has historical significance in the state of Utah, where it was designated as the state flower in 1911. It was chosen for its natural beauty and its role in the state's history. Early Mormon pioneers in Utah reportedly ate the bulbs of the Sego lily during a period of food scarcity, which helped them survive, making it a symbol of endurance and resourcefulness.
Seed Preparation: Calochortus nuttallii seeds have a hard seed coat that benefits from scarification, which helps break the dormancy and promote germination. To scarify the seeds, you can use one of the following methods:
Rub the seeds gently with sandpaper or an emery board to create small scratches on the seed coat.
Soak the seeds in warm water for 24 hours.
Soil and Container: Plant the scarified seeds in a well-draining potting mix or sandy soil. Use a container with drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. Sego lilies prefer slightly alkaline to neutral soil.
Planting Depth: Plant the seeds about 1/4 to 1/2 inch (6 to 12 mm) deep in the soil. Space the seeds a few inches apart to allow for growth.
Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. You can use a spray bottle or a gentle mist to water the seeds initially to avoid disturbing them.
Germination: Calochortus nuttallii seeds may take several weeks to several months to germinate, so be patient. Place the container in a location with indirect sunlight or dappled shade.
Transplanting: When the seedlings have grown large enough to handle (usually a few inches tall), you can transplant them into their permanent outdoor location. Choose a spot with well-draining soil and partial to full sunlight, as per the species' natural habitat preferences.
Care: Once established, Sego lilies require minimal care. Keep the soil evenly moist during their first growing season. After that, they are relatively drought-tolerant and may not require frequent watering.