Calochortus albus (Benth.) Douglas ex Benth. is a globe tulip form found in woodlands south of San Francisco Bay, California and through the Sierra Nevada foothills. This species was featured in Mariposa,Volume 1,#2 and in Mariposa,Volume 11,#3. There are two varietal names circulating, neither of which is officially recognized. However, we use it here for organizational convenience. These two varietal names, however, do not cover the variation found in this species. This species can be grown in a standard well drained mix. It likes a shady area with dappled sunlight but can be grown in practically full sun in areas very near the ocean where temperatures are cool. Seedlings grow faster if they are fertilized. Plants must be given a completely dry summer dormancy.
Seed photo by David Pilling.
Photo 1 is from Mary Sue Ittner, photo 2 is from Ron Parsons of the Southern California form, a disjunct population that is similar to the Sierra Nevada form, and extends south into Northern Baja California. Photos 3-6 were taken by Nhu Nguyen of a robust form in the foothills of Mount Diablo, northern California.
The photos below were taken by Nhu Nguyen of plants grown from seeds of the Diablo Foothills form shown above.
Calochortus albus var. albus is a form that has mostly white tepals with a pinkish gland. Photos 1-4 were taken by Mary Sue Ittner. The first three show it growing on the Hite Cove Trail along the Merced River, blooming April 2005 with Triteleia ixioides ssp. scabra and Collinsia heterophylla. Photo 4 was taken at Figueroa Mountain April 2005. Photo 5 was taken by Nhu Nguyen of plants in habitat.
The photos below were taken of plants in cultivation. Photo 1 was taken by Doug Westfall on March 10, 2003. Photos 2-6 were taken by Nhu Nguyen. Photos 2-3 were taken at the UC Botanical Garden and photos 4-6 were of plants grown by Nhu Nguyen.
Calochortus albus var. rubellus Greene is a form that is quite variable from blush red to bright red. Photo 1 is from a very dark population, Northwest Native Seed collection, photo by Mark Mazer. Photos 2-4 were taken by Nhu Nguyen of a plant from Telos Rare Bulbs.
Excerpts and photos from Kipp McMichael's "Calochortus pursuits":
"In the hills west of Templeton, CA, the population of Calochortus albus produces a range of pink to deeply wine-red blooming plants. The mild climate here allows for a long blooming season we would return to a few times in April and May. Informally called Calochortus albus var rubellus, the darkest colored plants have sumptuous deep wine-colored blooms (a fact not unnoticed by a local winery that boasts of this local lily)."
"Our final stop on this weekender was a return to hills west of Templeton to see Calochortus albus var rubellus. We found the colony nearer to peak-bloom than out first visit. Clearly the genetics of color in this taxon is complicated. Growing side by side were plants from nearly pure, greenish white (Calochortus albus var. albus) all the way to deeply-wine red and all shades in-between."