Sierra mariposa lily

(Calochortus minimus)



Calochortus minimus is a California species of flowering plants in the lily family known by the common name Sierra mariposa lily. Calochortus minimus is endemic to the Sierra Nevada of California, where it is a common member of the flora along mountain lakesides from Plumas County to Tulare County. Calochortus minimus is a perennial herb producing an unbranching stem no taller than 10 centimeters. The basal leaf is 10 to 20 centimeters long and does not wither at flowering. The inflorescence bears up to 10 erect, bell-shaped flowers. Each flower has three pointed sepals and three small white petals. The fruit is a winged capsule up to 2 centimeters long. Calochortus is a genus of flowering plants in the lily family. The group includes herbaceous, perennial and bulbous species, all native to North America (primarily the Western United States). The genus Calochortus includes mariposas (or mariposa lilies) with open wedge-shaped petals, globe lilies and fairy lanterns with globe-shaped flowers, and cat's ears and star tulips with erect pointed petals. The word Calochortus is derived from Greek and means "beautiful grass". Calochortus flowers have six tepals. Unlike most other Liliaceae, Calochortus tepals are in two series that differ in size and color. The outer three are generally narrower and more sepal-like, while the inner three are larger, usually with bright marks at the base. They may be described as petals. The flowers are borne on a stem that arises from a bulb, generally in the spring or early summer. Flowers can be white, yellow, pink, purple, bluish, or streaked. The insides of the petals are often very 'hairy'. These hairs, along with the nectaries, are often used in distinguishing species from each other. The genus Calochortus includes approximately 70 species distributed from southwestern British Columbia, through California and Mexico, to northern Guatemala and eastwards to New Mexico, Nebraska and the Dakotas. Calochortus is the most widely dispersed genus of Liliaceae on the North American Pacific Coast. Of these, 28 species are endemic to California.

Taxonomic tree:

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
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