KS Wild Side: Rare lilies bloom in Ashland’s backyard

KS Wild stewards who attended the 2021 Mariposa Preserve Stewardship Day celebrate victory after weeding invasive plants. Allee Gustafson photo
April 22, 2022

Volunteers can help at the Mariposa Lily Botanical Area

By Allee Gustafson

Did you know that two species of rare and endangered lilies grow throughout the public lands outside Ashland?

Pretty cool, huh?!

Allee Gustafson

The Klamath-Siskiyou region of northern California and southern Oregon is a world-renowned hub of biodiversity. An estimated 3,500 vascular plant species can be found here and 280 of those are found nowhere else in the world! Among the rarest is the Fritillaria gentneri, also known as the Gentner’s fritillary. Known for its downward pointed, showy red and yellow checkerboard petals, this species of lily can be found blooming throughout the month of April in low-elevation, dry, open woodlands. Jacksonville, Oregon has even hosted a festival specifically for this special flower where visitors enjoy its beauty in its protected environment throughout an established trail system!

Another rare flower you’ll find in the Klamath-Siskiyou unique to this region is the Calochortus greenei, also known as Green’s Mariposa Lily. This lily only grows in the mountainous forests of southern Oregon’s Jackson County and northern California’s Siskiyou County. Blooming in the summer months of June through August, you can identify this flower by its clusters of purple bell-shaped flowers held up by three light purple petals at its base.

The colorful, showy petals of the Gentner’s fritillary add a pop of red color to the forest floor. Howard Erbe photo

Stewardship Events at the Mariposa Preserve

May 14: Willow planting day

June 22: Star thistle weed pull

October TBD: Native seed dispersal day

To catch a glimpse of the rare Green’s Mariposa Lily in bloom, you can visit the Mariposa Preserve in the early summer around mid-June to the beginning of July. It’s just a short drive south from Ashland to the 222-acre Mariposa Botanical Area, a designated conservation area that lies within the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. The botanical area was first acquired in 1993 through a unique land exchange between The Nature Conservancy and cooperative ranchers in the Rogue Valley, and it now serves to protect the rare endemic species of flora like the Green’s Mariposa Lily. In addition to supporting habitat for the lily, the protected area also provides year-round habitat for fauna like blacktail deer and a small elk herd.

Want to get involved in protecting this biological treasure? KS Wild has partnered with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for the last seven years at the Mariposa Lily Botanical Area to work collaboratively toward a grassland restoration research project in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Hosting three separate stewardship events, the collective goals of the project include retention of stream water by planting willow cuttings, removing invasive species threatening the viability of the endemic plant species, and seeding the plots with a combination of native seed types. If retaining our region’s special biodiversity is important to you, and you would like to get involved with us, sign up for one or more of these stewardship events at kswild.org/events. If you want to stay informed about upcoming stewardship opportunities with KS Wild, sign up for our volunteer list at kswild.org/volunteer.

KS Wild Side appears every month and features a staff member from KS Wild, a regional conservation organization based in Ashland. Allee Gustafson is community organizer for KS Wild. For more information, go to kswild.org.

The delicate Green’s Mariposa Lily flower rests atop the three purple petals at its base. John L. Thompson photo

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.


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