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Erythronium grandiflorum
Erythronium grandiflorum
Erythronium grandiflorum (Glacier Lily, Dogtooth Violet)
Liliaceae (Lily Family)

Montane, subalpine. Openings, meadows. Spring.
Colorado Trail, June 19, 2015;
Ridge between Spiller and Helmet Peaks above Echo Basin Road, June 12, 2012;

Horse Gulch Trail, June 7, 2004.

Not long after snow melt, Glacier Lilies are found in large showy colonies or scattered through open woods and meadows. Their distinctive bright yellow reflexed petals are eye-catching and poetic.

"Erythro" is Greek for "red" and may refer to the color of some species (not in our area) or to the more often found red anthers.

Meriwether Lewis collected the first specimen of this plant in present-day Idaho near the Clearwater River in 1806.  Frederick Pursh named this species in 1814.

Erythronium grandiflorum

Erythronium grandiflorum

Erythronium grandiflorum

Erythronium grandiflorum

Erythronium grandiflorum

Erythronium grandiflorum

Erythronium grandiflorum (Glacier Lily, Dogtooth Violet)
Liliaceae (Lily Family)

Montane, subalpine. Openings, meadows. Spring.
Horse Gulch Trail, June 7, 2004. 
Western San Juan National Forest, May 7, 2009.
Lower Stoner Mesa Trail, May 26, 2004. 
Narraguinnep Natural Area, May 28, 2004. 
Near Helmet Peak, June 22, 2009.

 

A single bud emerges from the center of upright leaves;

 

 

 

 

 

 

petals

 

soon

 

unfold

 

and

 

begin

 

to curl;

 

 

 

flowers

 

stay

 

vibrant

 

for

 

a number

 

of days

 

as

 

fertilization

 

takes

 

place;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and then seeds enlarge.

 

 

 

We expect to find Glacier Lilies at the edge of snow banks in a subalpine or alpine setting (as in the top photograph from the Horse Gulch Trail, June 7, 2004), but it comes as a surprise to most of us that Glacier Lilies do equally well at 8,000 feet in Oak and Ponderosa woods. In the western San Juan National Forest in Colorado, May 11, 2009, crowds of Glacier Lilies commonly surround the base of islands of Gambel's Oak and Ponderosa Pines in meadows. They also scatter themselves in smaller numbers in heavier Oak and Pine forests.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Erythronium grandiflorum