Clintonia

Clintonia is a genus with 5 species. Plants have slender horizontal rhizomes. Taxonomists have not agreed in which family to place this genus. It has been considered part of the Liliaceae family, but has been proposed to be included in the Convallariaceae family and then the Uvulariaceae family. Most taxonomists are now including Uvulariaceae in Colchicaceae, but without Clintonia which is now listed by a number of taxonomic databases again in Liliaceae. There are species found in both eastern and western North America.


Clintonia andrewsiana is a beautiful species with bell shaped red flowers and broadly ovate shiny leaves. The flowers are followed by blue berries if the deer don't eat them first. It is found in the coastal fog belt of northern California and southern Oregon. It is often found growing in or at the edge of the forest with Trilliums and other forest plants. The leaves stay green throughout the dry summer and sometimes almost until new ones are produced in winter. Photos by Bob Rutemoeller of wild plants blooming in Sonoma County May 2003 and of plants in fruit. The last two photos by Mary Sue Ittner show it growing with companions Oxalis oregana and Trillium ovatum along a road in Sonoma County, California and a clump of garden plants in bud April 2004.

Clintonia andrewsiana, Bob RutemoellerClintonia andrewsiana, Bob RutemoellerClintonia andrewsiana berries, Bob RutemoellerClintonia andrewsiana berries, Bob RutemoellerClintonia andrewsiana, Mary Sue IttnerClintonia andrewsiana, Mary Sue Ittner

Clintonia borealis is native to eastern North America in the eastern US, New England, the upper Midwest, and deep into Ontario and Quebec provinces of Canada. It also follows the high altitude areas of the Appalachian mountains into the southern US. It is one of the truly hardy member of the genus, surviving brutal boreal winters. Plants can be found in massive colonies under shaded conditions with filtered light. The photos below were taken by Nhu Nguyen in habitat from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and central Minnesota.

Clintonia borealis, Upper Michigan Peninsula, Nhu NguyenClintonia borealis, Upper Michigan Peninsula, Nhu NguyenClintonia borealis, Cedar Creek, Minnesota, Nhu Nguyen

Clintonia uniflora is a desirable rhizomatous lily native to California and SW British Columbia. One or two pure white flowers rise above the wide basal leaves in May to June, followed by a single Prussian blue berry. At home in cool, damp, acid, mossy, well aerated conifer duff and dappled shade. Picture contributed by Paige Woodward

Clintonia uniflora, Paige Woodward

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