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Sagebrush Mariposa Lily

Scientific Name:
Calochortus macrocarpus
Family:
Native Name(s):
  1. Northern Paiute: ko˙gi' (Kelly 1932); koogi (Couture et al. 1986); kogi (Fowler 1989).
  2. Klamath: Yänch (Coville 1897)
Description:

Plant
This erect flowering herb grows from 20-50 centimeters tall, and produces 1 - 3 inflorescences from an underground ovoid bulb. The flowers of this plant are often soft white to lavender in color, with a distinct three-petal pattern.

Starch granules
Trimodal size distribution ranging from 5-40 microns, with an average size of 23 microns. Large granules are ovoid with transverse crack at eccentric hilum and visible lamellae. Eccentric cross with even bending arms. Medium granules are spherical, with central depression; eccentric cross with even bending arms. Small are spherical with centric to slightly eccentric cross.

Identification tips
Calochortus macrocarpus can be distinguished from other common species of Calochortus by its distinctive purple coloration. It can be distinguished from C. flexuosus by the erect stalk and leaves, C. flexuosus has a wiry, bent appearance. C. bruneaunis and C. nuttallii are further distinguished by the circular maroon colored gland with a half-moon shaped maroon band above that appears near the base of the petals.

Habitat:

Calochortus macrocarpus is found from 2500 to 8000 feet in elevation. It prefers dry hills and flats and can be found in volcanic and limestone soils.

Distribution:

Southern British Columbia across Washington, Idaho, and Montana and into northeastern California and northern Nevada.

Ethnography:

Bulbs of this species were gathered and used as food by many Native American groups. Bulbs were collected in early spring sometimes before the flowers had blossomed, they were consumed raw immediately after collection, and were said to have a sweet nutty flavor. 

As food
Northern Paiute: "Bulbs of ko˙gi' (Calochortus macrocarpus Dougl.) were skinned and eaten fresh in the spring, but they were never plentiful enough to be dried." (Kelly 1932:102)

Northern Paiute: "It is peeled and roasted, or eaten raw. This tuber was found on the hillsides. A single stalk grows in a clump of sagebrush. It is gathered in May and June. A digging stick made of a sharpened piece of juniper is used to get the roots and tubers." (Fowler 1989:44)

Klamath: "The spring plant collecting area was a highly significant part of the larger seasonal round. At specific sites, the roots of various species were collected. These included sego lily, bitterroot, yampah, wild onion, biscuitroot, and several species of lomatium." (Couture et al. 1986:154)

 

 

Distribution Map: