Baker's mariposa lily from the Bob Marshall Wilderness, late July, 1999.
Baker's mariposa lily is a perennial from a bulb. It reaches a maximum height of 10 to 40 cm. The basal leaf is flat, 10 to 30 cm long and 5 to 18 mm wide, tapering gradually to both ends. The leaves are usually shorter than the scape (flower stem). Several narrowly lanceolate, long bract-like leaves may be found on the stems below the inflorescence.
The inflorescence is one to five flowered, with the showy flowers being held erect. The three white petals are marked with yellow and sometimes penciled with purple dots. The greenish sepals are shorter than the petals, and may be whitish with many small purple spots (See photo at right.). They are oblong-lanceolate in shape, tapering to a point at the tip and1-2 cm long. The larger petals are obovate to oblanceolate, much broader than the sepals, and often taper to a point at the tip. They are 2-3 cm long. The inner surface of each petal is densely bearded (note upper photo) on the lower half. The gland is small, depressed, and nearly circular, and bordered below by a dark, deeply fringed membrane. In fruit, the pods are strongly deflexed. The fruit is 3-winged and lance-elliptical in outline.
Although it is a beautiful wildflower, Baker's mariposa lily should not be dug to bring home. The bulb is found deep underground, there is a great danger of damaging it, and mariposa lilies tend not to survive well in gardens. Instead, leave it alone and enjoy the beauty it adds to nature.
Baker's mariposa lily is a wildflower of the dry rocky to grassy slopes in open coniferous woods, and occasionally into grassy meadows.
Baker's mariposa lily is found from northeastern Washington to through southeastern British Columbia and southwestern Alberta, then south on both sides of the Rocky Mts to northwestern Montana and northern Idaho.