Blooming in the oak woodlands near Finley Lake, this showy yellow lily is hard to miss. There are many species of Calochortus in California, and they have a variety of descriptive common names. The broad, smooth tepals of some species evoked butterfly wings and gave rise to the common name of mariposa lily (Calochortus leichtlinii is common in our parts). Other species, like this one, have tepals that are as fuzzy as a cat’s ear, the name by which other species are known. Still others (like Calochortus albus) have nodding flowers whose tepals pinch to a close and are called fairy lanterns. Etymologically, the genus is derived from the Greek kalos (beautiful) + chortos (grass).
- Species: Calochortus monophyllus (yellow star-tulip)
- Plant Family: Liliaceae
- Where I saw it: oak woodlands, Finley Lake, Tehama County
- Look also: foothills of the northern Sierra Nevada and southern Cascades