Plant of the Week

Map of the North America showing areas colored green where the species may be found.
Range map of Elegant fawnlily. States are colored green where the species may be found.

Closeup of Elegant fawnlily, Erythronium elegans.
Elegant fawnlily, Erythronium elegans. Photo by Marty Stein.

Elegant fawnlily plants.
Elegant fawnlily, Erythronium elegans. Photo by Marty Stein.

Elegant fawnlily habitat.
Elegant fawnlily habitat. Photo by Marty Stein.

Elegant Fawnlily (Erythronium elegans P.C. Hammond & K.L. Chambers)

By Russell Holmes

Elegant fawnlily is in the Liliaceae (lily family) which contains 478 species in North America and approximately 4,200 species worldwide. Liliaceae is a diverse plant family that has been divided into as many as 30 separate families, includes numerous important ornamentals, a number of important agricultural crops, and has been the source of valuable pharmacopoeia. The family has a near worldwide distribution but most species grow in tropical areas. Elegant fawnlily is a narrow endemic species that is restricted to the northern Coast Range of western Oregon.

Elegant fawnlily is an attractive 10 to 30 cm (4 to 12 inches) tall perennial arising from a papery-sheathed corm. Flowering plants produce two 7 to 20 cm (3 to 8 inches) long dark green leaves, which are sometimes mottled with brown or white. Leaf margins are often wavy. Non-flowering plants produce a single leaf. Inflorescences typically produce 1 to 2, sometimes as many as 4, nodding flowers in May or June. Perianth segments are 2 to 4 cm (0.8 to 1.6 inches) long and become strongly reflexed in bright sunshine but remain only slightly spreading under shady or cloudy conditions. Flowers are white or pale pink with a bright yellow band at the base. Anthers are golden yellow.

Habitat ranges from rocky open coniferous forest to mountain bogs, meadows, and rocky balds in a narrow elevation band of 800 to 1,000 meters (2,600 to 3,300 feet). Associated species include Pacific silver fir (Abies amabilis), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), false lily of the valley (Maianthemum dilatatum), and wild strawberry (Fragaria sp.).

For More Information: PLANTS Profile - Erythronium elegans, elegant fawnlily

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