Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Hesperocallis undulata, Desert Lily

is undoubtedly one of the most dramatic, spectacular desert flowers resembling Easter lilies, in the southwestern United States. Desert Lily has white or bluish-white flowers with a green or silver-green stripe down the central margin. Flowers are large from a stout raceme, the fruit is a capsule. Hesperocallis undulata Desert Lily grows up to 3 feet tall, usually much less in normal conditions. This species blooms from February to May and March to May in California. Hesperocallis undulata Desert Lily or Ajo Lily bulbs have been used for food by southwestern United States indigenous peoples. Hesperocallis undulata Desert Lily: As beautiful as it is, this plant only blooms in the spring after rainy winters. Absence wet winters this plant will only sprout one or two basal leaves! Hesperocallis undulata Desert Lily flowering stems emerge from a large, bulb. The plants have large, Yucca-like fruit that is known as a capsule. Hesperocallis undulata

Scientific Name: Hesperocallis undulata
Common Name: Desert Lily
Also Called: Ajo Lily, Desert-lily
Family: Liliaceae or Lily Family
Synonyms: ()
Status: Native
Duration: Perennial
Size: Up to 3 feet, usually much less.
Growth Form: Forb/herb; flowering stems from a large, tunicate bulb.
Leaves: Green; basal leaves only, few leaves, leaves large with undulate-margins.
Flower Color: White or bluish-white with a green or silver-green central stripe; flowers large in a scarious-bracted stout raceme; fruit is a capsule.
Flowering Season: February to May; March to May in California.
Elevation: Below 2,000 feet.
Habitat Preferences: Sandy soil; desert communities.
Recorded Range: Hesperocallis undulata, Desert Lily is relatively rare in the United States where it is limited in populations mostly to Mojave desert habitats in AZ, CA, NV. Also found in the Lower Colorado Basin Sonoran Desert.

North America & US County Distribution Map Hesperocallis undulata.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.

Threatened/Endangered Information: In North America Hesperocallis undulata is "Salvage Restricted by the State of Arizona.

Genus Information: In North America there is 1 species and 1 accepted taxa overall for Hesperocallis. World wide, The Plant List includes 1 accepted species names and a further 1 infraspecific rank for the genus.

In the Southwestern United States there is 1 species for the monotypic genus Hesperocallis.

Comments: Hesperocallis undulata is undoubtedly one of the most dramatic, spectacular desert flowers resembling Easter lilies, in the southwestern United States. Large showy whitish trumpet shaped flowers with a thin silver green central stripe. As beautiful as it is, this plant only blooms in the spring after rainy winters. Absence wet winters this plant will only sprout one or two basal leaves!

Types from Jessup Rapids (Newberry) and Fort Mohave (Cooper).

Hesperocallis undulata has been used for food by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.

  • Cahuilla Food, Unspecified, Bulbs eaten raw or oven pit baked.
  • Yuma Food, Unspecified, Bulbs eaten raw, baked or boiled.

  • See ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

    Date Profile Completed: 03/06/2017
    References:
    Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 03/02/2017)
    https://plants.usda.gov/java/ClassificationServlet?source=profile&symbol=HESPE3&display=31
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; http://www.theplantlist.org/ (accessed 03/02/2017).
    http://www.theplantlist.org/1.1/browse/A/Asparagaceae/Hesperocallis/#statistics
    The Jepson Desert Manual; 2002; Baldwin, Bruce G., et. al.; The Jepson Desert Manual: Vascular Plants of Southeastern California; page 550, 553 Univ. of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California
    Frederick H. Utech, FNA | Family List | FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 26 | Liliaceae | Hesperocallis | FNA Vol. 26 Page 220, 222; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet http://www.wildflower.org/plants/ [accessed: 03/06/2017]. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
    http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=HEUN2
    SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information - (accessed 03/02/2017).
    http://swbiodiversity.org/seinet/