Calochortus nuttallii

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"Sego Lily" redirects here. For other uses, see Sego Lily (disambiguation).

Sego Lily
Sego lily cm.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Liliales
Family: Liliaceae
Genus: Calochortus
Species: C. nuttallii
Binomial name
Calochortus nuttallii
Torr. & A.Gray
An illustration of the Sego Lily
Sego lily plant near Zion National Park's Kolob Canyon.

The Sego Lily, Calochortus nuttallii, is a bulbous perennial which is endemic to the Western United States. It is the state flower of Utah.


The Sego Lily has 1 to 4 flowers, each with 3 white petals (and 3 sepals) which are tinged with lilac (occasionally magenta) and have a purplish band radiating from the yellow base. These appear in early summer. Plants are around 15–45 cm (6–18 inches) in height and have linear leaves.[1]


The bulbs of this and other Calochortus species were roasted, boiled or made into a porridge by Native Americans and were also used as a food source by the Mormon pioneers in Utah.[2][3] Currently, it is grown as an ornamental for its attractive tulip-shaped flowers.

State flower[edit]

The flower was chosen as the state flower of Utah due to its importance in pioneering times and its "natural beauty". It was formally adopted on March 18, 1911.[4]


The plant is native to a number of western states including Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.[1]


The Sego Lily is a species within the genus Calochortus, in a sub-group generally referred to as Mariposa Lilies. The specific epithet nuttallii, named for the English botanist and zoologist, Thomas Nuttall, was ascribed to the species by the American botanists John Torrey and Asa Gray when it was officially described in 1857.

A number of former varieties of Calochortus nuttallii are currently treated as species in their own right as follows:


Sego lilies prefer a deep, sandy soil with good drainage and are cold-hardy. Plants can be propagated from newly formed bulblets which take two years to flower.[6]


  1. ^ a b "Calochortus nuttallii". Flora of North America. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  2. ^ "Mariposa Lily (Calochortus nuttallii)". Native Wildflowers of the North Dakota Grasslands. Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  3. ^ Chamberlin, R.V. "The Ethno-botany of the Gosiute Indians of Utah" (PDF). Memoirs of the American Anthropological Association Vol II, part 5. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  4. ^ "Utah State Flower". Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  5. ^ "Calochortus nuttallii". electronic Plant Information Centre (ePIC). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  6. ^ "Calachotus nuttalli". Plants for a Future. Retrieved 2007-11-12.