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0NODDING ONION Allium cernuum Nodding onion is a perennial herb with a characteristic onion or garlic odor and taste. It grows six to 18 inches tall on slender, erect stalks from elongated, layered bulbs. The small, white or pinkish flowers are clustered in an umbel that droops or nods at the end of the stalk. The leaves, mostly basal, are long and somewhat grasslike. HABITAT/RANGE: This species is one of the most common wild onions found in North America. It prefers moist sites of valleys, open hillsides to mountain meadows. It is distributed across southern Canada from British Columbia to New York, south to Georgia, Wisconsin, Texas, Mexico and southern Oregon. Flowers during June to August. FACTS/USES: Allium is the ancient Latin name for garlic. The specific name, cernuum, means drooping or nodding. In the spring, wildlife feed upon the bulbs and foliage, and when dairy cows graze on onion, it flavors the milk they produce.

 

0TEXTILE ONION Allium textile Textile onion is a slender perennial that ascends and reproduces by bulbs, aerial bulblets or seed. The three- to 15-inch unbranched, leafless, round stalk terminates in an open umbel of 15 or more flowers. Each flower is comprised of six white or pinkish tepals and six stamens, attached by a long pedicel. Each stalk, rising from a clump, has two long, roundish, basal leaves. The stalks and leaves have an onion or garlic odor. HABITAT/RANGE: A plant of plains and foothills of Idaho to Alberta, Manitoba, Minnesota and south to New Mexico and Utah. Flowers in early summer. FACTS/ USES: The Latin specific name, textile, refers to the net-like coat of fibers covering the bulb. All the onions are edible and can be prepared a number of ways. The bulbs can be eaten raw, cooked or boiled. The leaves, too, can be used as seasoning. Consuming large quantities of onion, like many native foods, can cause poisoning.

 

0DOUGLAS' BRODIAEA Brodiaea ciouglasii This flower has an onion-like appearance. Five to 15 blue tubular flowers are clustered in a terminal umbel. Each one-inch, tubularflower is comprised of six fused tepals with flared lobes, and each flower is attached by a short pedicel. The one- to three-foot, erect, leafless stalks ascend from bulb-like corms. The narrow, grasslike leaves are basal and seldom exceed the height of the flowering stalk. HABITAT/RANGE: Douglas' brodiaea inhabits well-drained slopes of grasslands and sagebrush plains to pine and montane forests. It is distributed from British Columbia to Montana, south to Utah and northern California. Flowers from late April to mid-July. FACTS/USES: The generic name honors the Scottish botanist, James Brodie, and the specific name honors the Northwest explorer-botanist, David Douglas. The edible corms were used by Native Americans and early pioneers, who ate them raw or cooked.

 

0SEGO LILY Calochortus gunnisonii The sego lily is a goblet-like perennial flower with three narrow, greenish sepals and three broad, cream-colored petals with an elongated, often fringe-margined gland near the base. The long, narrow basal leaves are channeled and V-shaped in cross section. Each tall, slender stem, six to 18 inches high, terminates in a single flower. HABITAT/RANGE: An inhabitant of meadows to light woods, this Rocky Mountain species is common east of the Continental Divide, from central Montana to South Dakota, south to New Mexico, eastern Arizona and Utah. Blooms from May to mid-July. FACTS/USES: Another common name for sego lily is mariposa illy, a Spanish word meaning butterfly. The Greek generic name, Calochortus, is a derivative of kato, meaning beautiful, and chortos, meaning grass. Although most sego lilies reproduce from seeds, it takes three to five years for seedlings to establish bulbs and flower.

 

0NUTTALL'S SEGO LILY Calochortus nuttallii This erect, slender-stemmed perennial herb has a terminal, white, wineglass-shaped flower. Each flower has three lanceolate, greenish sepals and three triangular-shaped petals. At the base of each petal is a roundish gland, fringed with hairs, and an arched brownish-purple spot above the gland. The pale green leaves are slender and grasslike. HABITAT/ RANGE: Prefers dry, grassy or open sagebrush foothills of the Rocky Mountains, from Oregon, Montana and North Dakota to New Mexico and California. An early summer bloomer. FACTS/USES: This is Utah's state flower and commemorates the 1847 arrival of Brigham Young and his followers into the Salt Lake valley. The first few years, they faced famine caused by drought, cricket infestations, and heavy frosts. The sweet, starchy bulb-like roots of the sego lily helped sustain the pioneers through those harsh times.

 

0COMMON CAMAS Camassia quamash Common camas is a perennial, bulbous herb that grows one to two feet high. The bright blue to purplish flowers are arranged in loose racemes. The six tepals (sepals and petals are similar) spread outward in a star pattern with six yellow stamens. Most of the long, linear leaves are basal, with a few leaflike bracts in the inflorescence. HABITAT/RANGE: Camas prefers moist or wet meadows that often dry by late spring. It is found from British Columbia to Alberta, south to Colorado and California. When it flowers in early spring, camas produces large fields of blue that, from a distance, resemble pools of water. FACTS/USES: Camas has been one of the most significant staples and monetary plants of Western Indians. The bulbs are dug in spring but care must be taken not to collect death camas (Zigadenus venenosus). Camas bulbs are either cooked, producing a sweet gummy taste, or dried for later use.

 

0BEADLILY Clintonia uniflora This low-growing perennial herb usually has one distinct white flower terminating on a three- to eight-inch slender stalk. Six tepals flare back into a star shape, revealing six yellow stamens. The two to three leaves are mostly basal, broad and bright green. After the flower matures, it develops into a blue berry. The extensive rhizomatous root system produces a number of paired leaves surrounding the flowering plant. HABITAT/RANGE: This dweller of moist or wet soils in shaded coniferous forests is found from foothills to montane forests. It is distributed from Alaska to California, but mainly west of the Rocky Mountains. A late spring and early summer bloomer. FACTS/USES: The specific name, uniflora, means one-flowered. The root has known medicinal values, including use in a poultice for dog-bite wounds, and a tea also can be made to help expectant mothers during childbirth.

 

0WARTBERRY FAIRY-BELL Disporum trachycarpum This is an unusual perennial herb. The one- to two-foot stems ascend from thick underground rhizomes. The stems branch angularly into horizontal positions, and the end of each branch bears one or two small, white or cream-colored, bell-shaped flowers. The pendulous, six-tepaled flowers are in-conspicuously hidden below the leaves on slender stems. Long, ovate or oblong, prominently veined leaves branch from the stem. A round, velvety berry containing six to 15 seeds develops from the flower. The berries are yellow at first, then turn red. HABITAT/RANGE: Fairy-bells often grow along stream banks or slopes of moist, shaded woods. Found from British Columbia to Alberta, the Dakotas, south to Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. Blooms from late spring into early summer. FACTS/USES: The generic name is derived from the Greek word, cfe, meaning double, and spora, for seed, referring to the two seeds per ovary cell.

 

0GLACIER LILY Erythronium grandiflorum Glacier lilies are colorful and showy wildflowers. Six bright yellow tepals form a nodding flower at the end of a six- to 15-inch stalk. The tepals curl back and display six yellowish to purplish anthers. There usually are two basal leaves, which are shiny, long and broadly lanceolate. HABITAT/RANGE: This lily inhabits a wide variety of environments, from sagebrush to montane forests to subalpine meadows. It is a Western species, existing from British Columbia to Montana, south to Colorado and Oregon. Flowers from April to August, depending upon elevation. FACTS/USES: The Greek generic name is derived from erythro, meaning red, in reference to the pink or reddish color of some species. The starchy, elongated corms are a favorite food source, especially for grizzly bears, which rake their long claws through a patch to collect the bulbs. Indians used to cook or dry the corms for later consumption.

 

0LEOPARD LILY Fritillaria atropurpurea Leopard lily is an unusual camouflaged flower. One to four brown, pendulous, bell-shaped flowers with purple, greenish and yellow mottled tepals help hide this flower. The one- to three-foot, erect stems have several very narrow, long, linear leaves. Stems ascend from bulb-like corms, usually surrounded by smaller bulblets. HABITAT/RANGE: Found on grassy slopes, coniferous forests and montane ridges to near timberline, it is distributed, but locally rare, from Washington to the Dakotas, south to Wyoming, New Mexico and central California. Flowers from late spring until early summer. FACTS/ USES: The generic name, Fritillaria, is Latin for dice box, for its resemblance to the shape of the bell-like flowers. The specific name, atropurpurea, means dark purple. The corms of this species are surrounded by small seedlike bulblets. The starchy corms are edible but the plant is too rare to dig up.

 

0YELLOW BELL Fritillaria pudica This small perennial arises three to eight inches from a starchy corm. The stem usually is unbranched and terminates in a pendulous or nodding bell-shaped flower. The six bright yellow tepals fade to reddish or purplish at maturity. The leaves are long, linear and thickened and usually are basal or midway along the stem. HABITAT/RANGE: An inhabitant of grassland, sagebrush plains, dry hillsides and coniferous forests. Distributed from British Columbia to Alberta, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Utah and northern California. One of the earliest spring bloomers, the yellow bell follows the snowline and usually is found with springbeauty (Claytonia lanceolata). FACTS/USES: The specific name means bashful or retiring. The starchy bulbs or corms are edible and were known by Native Americans. The corms also are a favorite food for grizzly bears and pocket gophers.

 

0RED LILY Ulium philadelphicum Red lily is one of the most colorful and rare species of the Rocky Mountains. The one- to two-foot, unbranched stems arise from fleshy-scaled bulbs. Long, narrow, lanceolate leaves are arranged alternately on the lower portion of the plant and in whorls near the top. Usually one, or sometimes several, large, orange-red, funnel-shaped blossoms with purple spots and large anthers terminate on the stem. HABITAT/RANGE: Occurs on moist grassland prairies, woods to mountain meadows. It is a rare plant, mainly because it has been reduced by grazing and picking. It now is found only locally along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, from Alberta to New Mexico, east to Saskatchewan, Ohio and Arkansas. Blooms from June to August. FACTS/USES: This plant may be in danger of extinction and should not be picked or transplanted because it usually does not survive transplanting.

 

0WESTERN SOLOMON-PLUME Smilacina racemosa This species is very similar to S. stellata. The main difference is in the inflorescence and leaves. Numerous, tiny flowers are arranged in a dense panicle with each cream-colored flower having six minute tepals that are smaller than the filaments, or stalk, of the six stamens. Small quarter-inch, round, juicy, red-spotted berries develop from the flowers. The leaves are long, ovate, and clasp the stem. HABITAT/RANGE: This species prefers moist woods, stream banks and open forests from sea level to mid-mountain elevations. It is distributed from Alaska to Nova Scotia, south to Georgia, Missouri, Colorado and southern California. Flowers from April to July. FACTS/USES: The specific name, racemosa, means flowers in racemes. The young shoots, berries and roots are edible, if prepared properly.

 

0STARRY SOLOMON-PLUME Smilacina stellata This plant has simple, terminal racemes with three to 15 small, whitish or cream-colored flowers arranged alternately along the peduncles. Each flower is comprised of three sepals and three petals that look alike; collectively, they are called tepals. A globose, greenish to red berry develops from the flower. The long, lance-shaped leaves are alternately arranged on a slender, unbranched, erect stem. The plants are rhizomatous perennial herbs. HABITAT/RANGE: An inhabitant of shaded, moist woods and stream banks to exposed hillsides of valleys and mountains. Found in cooler, moist climates throughout North America. Flowers from late spring to midsummer. FACTS/USES: The specific name means stellate or starry. The berries and roots are edible. Berries are best eaten cooked to reduce laxative effect, and Native Americans used to cook the bitter roots.

 

0TWISTED-STALK Streptopus amplexifolius This is an unusual perennial wildflower of deep, shaded woods. The plant is characterized by a slender, zigzagging stern. At each bend of the stem branches a clasping, broad, ovate leaf with distinct parallel veins. Beneath the leaf axils are white, six-tepaled flowers on slender stalks that have a distinct twist or kink-hence the name twisted-stalk. The flower matures into a bright red berry. HABITAT/RANGE: It is a dweller of shady mountain thickets, most forests and the edges of stream banks. Twisted-stalk is distributed widely in North America, from Alaska to California. Flowers from late spring into midsummer. FACTS/USES: The Greek generic name is derived from streptos, meaning twisted, and pous, for foot, and refers to the bent flower stalks or peduncles; the specific name means leaf-clasping. The berries are browsed by grouse and other birds.

 

0TRILLIUM Trillium ovatum Easily recognizable by its habitat and three broad, ovate leaves just below a white, three-petaled flower, the plant arises from short, thick rhizomes and reaches four to 15 inches high. The stems are erect, unbranched and terminate with a single white flower, which turns pinkish or red with age. The three leaves below the flower are whorled and stalkless. HABITAT/RANGE: This plant prefers moist, thick montane woods, especially along stream banks and boggy areas. Mostly found in the Central Rocky Mountains, from British Columbia to southern Alberta, south to Colorado and central California. A very early spring to early summer bloomer. FACTS/USES: The Latin generic name is derived from tres, meaning three. The specific name means ovate. The root of this plant is known for its medicinal qualities, such as a treatment for cramps or to reduce a swollen eye.

 

0FALSE HELLEBORE Veratrum viride False hellebore is a large, cornstalk-like perennial herb that grows in dense patches and reaches three to six feet high. The conspicuous, large, broad leaves have deep, parallel veins that give the appearance of pleats. The small, six-tepaled, white or greenish flowers are densely clustered on a branchedpanicle. HABITAT/RANGE: Falsehelleboreisfound in wet thickets to swamps and lowlands to mountain meadows, and it ranges from Alaska to Maine, south to North Carolina, Colorado and Oregon. Asimilar and related species, V. califomicum, is found in the southern range of the Rockies. Blooms from April to early August. FACTS/USES: This plant is extremely poisonous. Alkaloids concentrated in the root and young shoots often poison livestock in the early spring, when the plant is just emerging. False hellebore has been used medicinally as a heart depressant and spinal paralyzant. The chief reactant is veratrum, an alkaloid chemical.

 

0BEARGRASS Xerophyllum tenax This plant supports a dense, conical raceme of small, white or cream-colored flowers. A stout two- to four-foot stem ascends from a large basal tussock of grasslike leaves that are one to two feet long, strong and sharp-edged. The erect stems often persist through the next season. HABITAT/RANGE: This mountain plant grows best on well-drained slopes and ridges. It ranges from British Columbia, Montana and Nevada to central California. Beargrass begins to bloom at lower elevations, about 3,000 feet, in June and continues into August at elevations of 8,000 feet. FACTS/USES: The name beargrass refers to bears digging the starchy rhizomes in spring and to the grasslike leaves. The generic name, Xerophyllum, refers to the leaves being dry and tough. Native Americans used this plant by roasting the roots for food and by drying and bleach-ing the leaves for weaving and padding.

 

0MEADOW DEATH-CAMAS Zigadenus venenosus This plant is a perennial herb with a dense raceme of small whitish or cream-colored flowers. The six- to 20-inch, unbranched, erect stems arise from small, onion-like bulbs. The leaves are narrow, linear, grasslike blades that grow from the base with smaller leaves along the stem. HABITAT/RANGE: Death camas has a wide variation of habitats-from plains, grassy foothills, sagebrush slopes to montane forests and alpine meadows. It is distributed widely throughout the West, from British Columbia to Saskatchewan, south to Nebraska, Colorado and Baja, California. Flowers from early spring to midsummer. FACTS/USES: The specific name means poisonous. Next to hemlock, this is the most poisonous plant in the West. The active agent is an alkaloid called zygadenine, which causes a quickening and irregularity of the heartbeat, slow respiration and convulsions.

 

 


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