Yellow bells are delightful perennial wildflowers with a single stem arising from a small bulb consisting of several fleshy scales and several to many rice-grainlike offset bulblets. The stems may be as much as 35 cm tall.
The leaves are either two and subopposite or three and alternate to somewhat whorled. The leaves are long, linear or linear-oblanceolate. They are green and may be up to 16 cm long and 3 to 12 mm wide.
A solitary flower (occasionally two may be found), is found atop the stem, which turns down so that the flower hangs down in bloom, and the seed capsule then turns upwards as it readies itself. Six yellow tepals may be found, often with purplish or brownish streaks near the base of each tepal. As they age, the tepals turn red or purple. The tepals are oblong-lanceolate to oblanceolate in shape, often narrowed near the base and from 1.5-2.5 cm long and 4-10 mm wide. The style and stigma are entire and are longer than the stamens. The fruit is an erect pod which is cylindric-obovoid to globose-obovoid in shape, measuring 18-30 mm wide.
Yellow bells would make a nice addition to a prairie garden or rock garden east of the Cascade Mts.. Wild plants should not be collected. Plants obtained from scrupulous wildflower nurseries should be used instead. I have a number of yellow bells in raised beds in Gresham, Oregon, west of the Cascades where they seem to be surviving well, blooming in late February to early March each year. Some book sources say they are difficult to grow west of the Cascades so some thought should be given before planting them in rainier climates.
Yellow bells may be found in grasslands, scattered among sagebrush, or on the needled ground beneath Ponderosa Pines or in mixed coniferous forests. They are one of the first wildflowers to bloom in the spring.
The range of yellow bells is from British Columbia southward through Oregon and Washington (east of the Cascade crest) to northern California. It is found eastward to Alberta, and southward through Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada.
In the Columbia River Gorge they may be found between 100'-3000' from Dog Mt. east past Biggs, OR.