(Possibly) Tolmie’s Mariposa Lily, a tiny little darling

Tiny Mariposa Lily
A tiny Mariposa Lily peeks out from under a rock alongside a trail in a botanic area off Highway 199 in Northern California.

Fortunately, my husband is patient as I frequently stop to examine all the growing things.

We had stopped at my favorite Botanic Area off Highway 199 east of Crescent City, California, and I almost didn’t notice this little treasure, barely peeking out from the protection of a rock alongside the trail. I snapped a few photos with my camera and it wasn’t until I was home and reviewing the pictures that I realized what I had seen.

A close-up of Tolmie's Mariposa Lily
A slightly fuzzy close-up of the tiny flower, which I believe is Tolmie’s Mariposa Lily.

I’ve heard of the Mariposa Lily of the Sierra Nevada in California and now I’ve learned that there are many other varieties (species) of this beautiful little wildflower. I should mention that the flower is about the size of a nickel. If I had a better camera, you’d be able to see more detail, but I was able to distinguish the features that have caused this variety (which I believe is Tolmie’s Mariposa) to get the nickname “Cat’s Ears.” The photographs here are much better than mine!

I like to learn about the flora and fauna we encounter on our outings, whether we are close to home or further afield. Fortunately, my husband is patient as I frequently stop to examine all the growing things.

The genus Calochortus (which means “beautiful grass”) is native to the North American West, from Mexico to British Columbia. And the name Mariposa means butterfly in Spanish. Some of the flower shapes do resemble tiny butterflies.

Some Calochortus are rare, threatened, or endangered. My botanical skills aren’t sufficient to be certain that my little flower (which I left growing alongside the trail) is a Tolmie’s, but it does look exactly like pictures I found at more scientific websites.

Check back for more articles about the flora and fauna we’ve encountered.