50 Natives: Nevada – Calochortus nuttalli – Sego Lily

Calochortus nuttallii sego lily

image by solitude48

Indian legend has it that many, many suns ago when the native american indians lived in great numbers in the western US, life was abundant.  But the indians became jealous of each other and they traded stick games for tomahawks and they began to war.  The Great Spirit was displeased and he dried up the corn and berries – the earth refused to yield.  The Indians sorrowed and prayed to the Great Spirit. One day the sun shone bright up on the hills, and the people saw a little plant growing everywhere. When the Indians tasted the root, they knew the Great Spirit had saved them, and ever after, they refused to fight where the Sego Lily grew. They called it the ‘Little Life Plant of the Hills’.”

Calochortus nuttallii sego lily

1. Sego Lily – Calochortus nuttallii, 2. Sego Lily, Calochortus nuttalli

The Sego Lily is a beautiful native plant that is protected in Utah (where it is the state flower).  If you love the look, you can plant it or other varieties of chalohortus that are a bit more flexible regarding restrictions.   It grows 10-20 in. high, from an onion-like bulb. One to three very showy, white to lavender-blue, tulip-like flowers are borne atop the stem in an umbel-like cluster.  It is a fascinating plant because it literally plants it’s self.   Below ground, the Sego Lily has an amazing mechanism to move its bulb through the soil to an optimal depth. Following germination at or near the soil surface, the small bulb slowly moves deeper into the soil by contractile roots until it reaches a depth of 10 cm or more.

There are only 2 states left in the native plant series….South Dakota and Texas.  I am not sure what to replace this feature with.  What do you think? I could start all over again with 50 more plants from 50 states, move abroad, or perhaps try something else all together.  You ideas or thoughts are, as always, happily accepted and considered.

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rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.
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  1. Sheila H on June 8, 2010 at 10:25 am

    I miss your series with the artist dresses/outfits and matching the design with flowers, furniture and accessories. I’m sure it is a lot of work but it is so different from what everybody else does in their garden blogs.

  2. Trisha on June 8, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    wow! really lovel pictures!

  3. rochelle on June 9, 2010 at 7:26 am

    Sheila – I miss that series too…I have been thinking of bringing it back…but you are correct…the main reason for letting it go was the immense amount of time it took to put each together….always juggling..

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