Mariposa Lily

Calochortus gunnisonii

Appearance: Blooming from March to June, this is one of the most beautiful, simplistic wildflowers of Colorado.  A close relative to lilies, the cup-shaped flowers of Mariposa Lily have 3 translucent petals, usually white with a tinge of pink or blue.  Inside the cup of petals is a ring of bright yellow hair.  This native perennial grows up to 20” tall on a single slender stem.  Narrow, grass-like foliage usually withers at the base of the plant by bloom time. (more…)

Leucocrinum montanum_1439x959

Written by:  Peg Zimprich

Photo by: Lisa Bird


 Sand Lily

Leucocrinum montanum


Appearance: Sand Lily is a striking native plant with a cluster of white six-pointed star-shaped flowers tucked into the middle of a mass of grayish-green grass like leaves. This perennial plant is a member of the lily family and is also known as the common star lily. This surprisingly common plant only reaches a height of 8” and may be easily overlooked unless in bloom. This plant blooms in early spring, April at lower elevations and May at higher elevations. Sand Lilies have a unique seed dispersal habit. Each spring, new floral buds push the ripened seeds from the prior year up and out of the floral tube.


Habitat:  Found in sunny grassland areas ranging from the plains into the foothills at elevations between 3,500 and 8,000 feet. It requires full sun and will not tolerate shade. Native plants do not require amended soil and are drought tolerant once established.


Landscape Suitability: Sand Lily is a great perennial plant choice for cultivated beds. It needs full sun, making it a perfect choice for those hot, dry areas where few ornamental plants will grow. A grouping can lend early spring color and interest between early blooming bulbs and later blooming ornamentals. Look for this remarkable plant in local nurseries; remember never to “wild collect.”




Colorado Plant Database

USDA Plant Database 

Eastern Colorado Wildflowers