Liliaceae (Lily Family)

Liliaceae is a large family, with hundreds of exotic species in cultivation. They include hyacinths, tulips, onions, as well as the true lilies. This family is well represented in the Bay Area natives, many of which have become native garden favorites.

All species are prerennial, but most are herbaceous (not having a woody stem) and die back, after flowering or fruiting, to underground bulbs, corms, or rhizomes. New plants form from bulb division or sprout from seeds, but usually do not begin flowering until about the fourth year, after the bulb has developed sufficiently.

The flowers have 3 petals and 3 sepals, often very similar (in which they are referred to as perianth segments: you needed to know that, I'm sure.) There are typically 6 stamens. The fruit is either dry and cracking at maturity or fleshy in certain species - it is divided into 3 segments. There are few exceptions to the above general description.

 Many native members of Liliaceae can be grown in the garden, keeping in mind their native situations: Allium, Brodiaea, Camassia, Lilium and Calochortus species prefer to grow in open, sunny areas; Trillium, Erythronium, Smilacine, and Maianthemum prefer shaded habitats, and require more moisture over a longer growing period. On Montara Mountain, Liliaceae representatives include:

Allium dichlamydeum
Coast Onion

Allium triquetrum
Welsh Onion

Calochortus albus
White Globe Lily

Chlorogalum pomeridianum
Soap Plant

Dichelostemma capitatum
Blue Dicks

Dichelostemma congestum
Forked-Toothed Ookaw

Fritillaria affinis
Mission Bells
(Checker Lily)

Scoliopus bigelovii
Fetid Adder's Tongue

Smilacine racemosa
var amplexicaulis
Fat Solomon's Seal

Smilacine stellata
var sessilifolia
Slim Solomon's Seal

Trillium albidum
Sweet Trillium

Trillium chloropetalum
Giant Trillium

Trillium ovatum
Coast Trillium

Triteleia laxa
Ithuriel's Spear

Zigadenus fremontii
Star Lily



Trillium ovatum:
Coast (Western) Trillium

Liliaceae (Lily Family)

Flowers: White, turning pink with age; single flower; 3 oval petals sitting 2 inches above the plant's major leaves. Interior parts of flower reddish.

Blooms: February - March.

Leaves: Solid, green to dark-green, large and triangular; three per plant, radiating off stout stem above the ground.

Fruit/Seeds: Fleshy yellow 3-sided capsule filled with tiny seeds.

Location: Shady, moist trails. Often growing in bottom story of bushy areas. Plaskon Nature Trail (San Pedro Valley County Park), Saddle Pass area on San Pedro Road (McNee Ranch State Park).

Status: Native - Common, but not easy to find.

Trillium ovatum
600x450 JPEG - 28K
Further description & Comment: Up to 1 ft tall. The pictures above right and below left show a mature flower, already pink with age. Note the reddish interior parts of the flowers, the separation of the flower from the leaves and the solid green, unmottled leaves that distinguish it from Sweet Trillium(T. albidum) and Giant Trillium (T. chloropetalum). The image below right shows the developing 3-chambered seed pod.

600x450 JPEG - 32K



Triteleia laxa :
Ithuriel's Spear (Wally Basket)

Liliaceae (Lily Family)

Flowers: Blue to violet, funnel-like, six petals bent open from funnel; in loose clusters at top of stem.

Blooms: April - June.

Leaves: Grass like, at base of stem.

Fruit/Seeds: ??

Location: Grassy trails, open areas.

Status: Native - Common.

Further description & Comment: 6 inches - 2 ft tall; stout stem.

Triteleia laxa
640x480 JPEG - 44K

450x600 JPEG - 44K

Forked Toothed Ookow -

Fetid Adder's Tongue

Ithuriel's Spear/Wally Basket

You must say, Liliaceae certainly has the most interesting common names.



Zigadenus fremontii :
Star Lily (Fremont's Camas)

Liliaceae (Lily Family)

Flowers: White, six pointed petals, star shaped; in loose spike clusters at end of stem.

Blooms: March - April.

Leaves: Narrow and long, at base.

Fruit/Seeds: In 1 - 2 inches upright, lingering pods. May.

Location: Dry trails; Montara Mountain Trail.

Status: Native - Common.

Further description & Comment: 2 - 3 ft tall, stout stems.

Zigadenus fremontii
500x400 JPEG - 20K

Photo by Mike Vasey


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