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By on July 27, 2022 in Featured, News, Newsletter

Sometimes we who walk on two feet forget that the ground beneath us is as alive as we are. It is indeed an expansive land, and when the temperature and water is just right, glad expressions of bulbs below show us the soil’s library. This year I got to witness Calochortus albus, with given names of globe lily or fairy lantern, come to life. In mid-spring, Calochortus albus dripped beneath oak woodland’s dappled light. The flower itself is unlike its gleaming Calochortus sisters (mariposa lily and late-flowered mariposa lily). Shy—a glowing white—the petals twist in three to hold the developing stamen and pistil. They hold close and blush towards the ground. 

As I hiked through Wills Canyon this season, the flowers lit my path. Each time I returned to the specimens, I could witness the growing changes. 

First leaf, bolt with green blades on slender stalk, bud, and flower. The flower dries to a twist, the sepal crown adorned in reddish stripes. Then seed pod fattens, stretches, and rests. It is a three chambered lair, with the children of lanterns to come. This story is a long breath, one waiting to happen all year. 

It is a wonderful way to tell time—by counting steps of bulbs in forbearing spring. 

Sophie McLean
Native Plant Specialist

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