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Sunday, June 6, 2021

San Luis Mariposa Lily


“He who dares to teach must never cease to learn.”
― Richard Henry Dana

If you have never read 2 years before the mast it really is a fascinating tale of early California, told by prosperous young man from Boston, who puts to sea to help his failing vision and finds himself indentured on a coastal trader exchanging Californio cowhides for Boston fineries at the missions along the  California coast in the 1830's. One can imagine based on his descriptions of the mostly uninhabited coast line what flowers he must have saw. Perhaps he had some time to chat about those plants, as they picked up Thomas Nuttall the famed naturalist and botanist they found walking down a beach barefoot in San Diego before they left for the return trip to Boston. 

Calochortus obispoensis

Somewhat of a curiosity really, this little mariposa lily puts out it's flowers around the first of June. Growing in the chaparral plant communities of the coastal mountains around San Louis Obispo County California. 

I've been looking to see if I could notice any pollinators on this one but haven't seen one yet.

First described by the botanist John Gill Lemmon, Lemmon had spent the end of the civil war in the notorious Andersonville prison. Moving towards teaching and botany after the war, he was a frequent corresponder with Asa Grey and Henry Bolander who eventually convinced him to move west. He met Sara Plummer whom he eventually married and together they made a veritable power couple of west coast botany. Their honeymoon to Arizona resulted in the description of many plants and the naming of the highest peak in the Santa Catalina mountains for her. 

The San Luis Mariposa lily is considered rare, and due to habitat loss becoming increasingly so. Despite this it seems easy to cultivate, requiring only well drained soil and a good summer dry rest. 

Eremurus 'Cleopatra' making a wonderful show in the rock garden.

The bulbs in the hoop house are mostly senescing now, with a few calochortus still going and the Brodieae and Triteleia in flower now. I have had a lot of inquiries about when the catalog will be out, based on this seasons relatively warm and dry spring. I should be able to harvest a bit earlier than usual. I will post updates here but looking at the late July/early august period to get the availability out. 

The relatively dry spring and early summer continues, although fortunately some sprinkles and a cooler high forecast for this week will be welocome. Highs in the upper 60's. 


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