Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database


Fritillaria affinis (Chocolate Lily)

 

Kingdom

 Plantae Plants

Subkingdom

 Tracheobionta Vascular plants

Superdivision

 Spermatophyta Seed plants

Division

 Magnoliophyta Flowering plants

Class

 Liliopsida Monocotyledons

Subclass

 Liliidae

Order

 Liliales

Family

 Liliaceae Lily family

Genus

 Fritillaria L. fritillary

Species

 Fritillaria affinis (Schult.) Sealy checker lily

Note: Throughout the years I've written short articles for our website's home pages (home pages are the front page of a website) about these plants. They are now included at the bottom of this page, and are illustrated by botanical drawings and paintings, some of which are from books published from 1500 - 1900.

This beautiful perennial has whorled leaves and very unusual, flowers which are dark purple, mottled with green-yellow. The patterns on the bell-shaped, nodding flowers are intriguing.

Underground, the scaly bulb has many rice-like bulblets that Natives ate as we eat rice today. But please so not sample in the wild these plants are incredibly rare, both in the wild and commercially.

Like many of our wildflowers, the spectacular display of beauty comes only after many years of maturation and effort.

Found from BC to California and east to Idaho (USDA 5-10), this is a meadow species, favoring a dry, sunny site with excellent drainage.

Illustration at right by W.J. Hooker, Flora boreali-americana, or, the botany of the northern parts of British America, vol. 2: t. 193 (1840)

Chocolate Lilies need water in the winter and spring, but tolerate drought in summer.

They do well in rock gardens.

Center photo below courtesy of Franco Folini

       

From Homepage October 18, 2003

For those who favor the unusual: a rarely available northwest native bulb, the Chocolate Lily (Fritillaria lanceolata), is a lovely addition to a rock garden or perennial border. The weather now is perfect for fall bulb planting, and this bloom will distinguish your bulb garden from the ordinary. Of course, a container grown plant can be set out at any time.

Also known as Checker Lily, Rice Root or Mission Bells, the scaly bulbs are a traditional food of the Coast Salish. They are said to be tender and delicate, somewhat like rice but a bit more tart. However, the depletion of natural habitat from our expanding population has limited the abundance of the plant that the Original People once enjoyed.

Today we no longer have the luxury of using the Chocolate Lily as part of our diet. Instead we must treasure the pure artistry of the patterned petals as a visual delight in our gardens, rather than on our dinner tables.

Photos We Share!

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Contact:  star@chillirose.com ~ Copyright 2012 Wallace W. Hansen ~ All rights reserved