Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Dichelostemma capitatum, Bluedick

Bluedick has one or more flowers ranging in color from blue, blue-purple, pink-purple, blue-violet or white. The plants are usually common where found. Dichelostemma capitatum Bluedick is a native, perennial member of the Lily family that grows up to 2 feet or more. Flowering stems are leafless scapes. Dichelostemma capitatum Bluedick, Blue Dicks or Covena blooms in early spring from February to May and grows at elevations from sea-level to 7,000. Flowers are often in dense clusters of 15 or more blooms. Dichelostemma capitatum Bluedick prefers open areas, rocky or slopes, open woodlands, desert scrub and grassland. This species is an important food item for western North American indigenous peoples. Dichelostemma capitatum

Scientific Name: Dichelostemma capitatum
Common Name: Bluedick

Also Called: Blue Dick, Blue Dicks, Bluedicks, Covena, Coveria, Desert Hyacinth, Grass-nuts (Spanish: Cobena, Coveria)

Family: Liliaceae or Lily Family

Synonyms: (Dichelostemma pulchellum)

Status: Native

Duration: Perennial

Size: Up to 27 inches more or less.

Growth Form: Forb/herb; cormlets sessile and on stolons; stems naked.

Leaves: Green; few (2-3) leaves rising directly from the bulbs; leaf blade barely keeled.

Flower Color: Blue, blue-purple, pink-purple, blue-violet or white; inflorescence head or umbel-like structure; 2 to 15 flowers in dense clusters; perianth tube narrowly cylindric, short bell-shaped or short campanulate; stamens 6, smaller 3 on outer perianth parts.

Flowering Season: February to May

Elevation: 0 to 7,000 feet.

Habitat Preferences: Mesas, rocky areas, open slopes, open woodlands, desert scrub, grassland.

Recorded Range: Dichelostemma capitatum is found in the southwestern United States in AZ, CA, NM, NV, OR, UT. It is also native to Baja California and northwestern Mexico.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Dichelostemma capitatum.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.

Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.

Wetland Indicator: In North America Dichelostemma capitatum has the following wetland designations:
Arid West; FACU.
Western Mountains, Valleys, and Coast, FACU.
FACU = Facultative Upland, usually occur in non-wetlands, but may occur in wetlands.

Threatened/Endangered Information: No information available.

Genus Information: In North America there are 4 species and 7 accepted taxa overall for Dichelostemma. World wide, The Plant List includes 6 accepted species names and a further 11 infraspecific rank for the genus.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah each have 1 species of Dichelostemma, California has 5 species and Texas has 0 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

There are 2 sub-species in Dichelostemma capitatum;
Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatum , Bluedicks (AZ, CA, NM, NV, OR, UT);
Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. pauciflorum, Bluedicks (AZ, CA, NM, NV, UT).

Comments: Dichelostemma capitatum is a common and often abundant plant found in the southwestern United States. The root structures are corms although often incorrectly referred to as bulbs in the literature. This species is an important food item for western North American indigenous peoples.

Dichelostemma capitatum has been used for food and traded by southern United States indigenous peoples.

  • Apache, San Carlos Food, Unspecified; Blue flowers eaten raw.
  • Apache, San Carlos Food, Unspecified; Bulbs eaten raw or cooked in spring.
  • Cahuilla Food, Unspecified; Corms eaten raw or cooked.
  • Kawaiisu Other, Fasteners; Corms rubbed on metate into an adhesive & spread on seed gathering baskets to close the interstices.
  • Miwok Food, Unspecified; Bulbs steamed in earth oven and eaten.
  • Paiute Food, Dried Food; Roots dried and stored.
  • Papago Food, Unspecified; Bulbs eaten raw in spring before other crops appeared.
  • Pima, Gila River Food, Snack Food; Bulbs eaten primarily by children as snack food.
  • Pomo, Kashaya Food, Vegetable; Baked or boiled corms eaten like baked or boiled potatoes.

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

    Date Profile Completed: 02/28/2017, updated format 10/12/2017
    Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California, as Dichelostemma pulchellum.
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 02/28/2017)
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 02/28/2017).
    The Jepson Desert Manual; 2002; Baldwin, Bruce G., et. al.; The Jepson Desert Manual: Vascular Plants of Southeastern California; page 548 & 553. Univ. of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California
    J. Chris Pires & Glenn Keator; Jepson Online Interchange, eFlora Treatment; (accessed 02/28/2017)
    J. Chris Pires, FNA | Family List | FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 26 | Liliaceae | 1. Dichelostemma capitatum (Bentham) Alph. Wood, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia. 20: 173. 1868. ; 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 [accessed: 02/28/2017]. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
    SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information - (accessed 02/28/2017).