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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Elegant Mariposa Lily - Calochortus elegans
Other Names:  Calochortus selwayensis

Native Species

Global Rank: G3G4
State Rank: S3S4
(see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:

External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Many collections from NW Montana, several of them recent. May be sensitive to weed invasions. This species' status in Montana would benefit from periodic rank review and possibly inventory. We have mostly or only var. selwayensis, which is the most narrowly endemic variety of the three under this species. It is found only in eastern portions of north Idaho and adjacent Montana.
General Description
Stem 5–25 cm. Leaf blade 2–10 mm wide. Bracts usually 2, 5–30 mm long. Flowers 1 to 5; sepals 10–15 mm long, purplish; petals white; inner surface hairy, purplish above and below the fringed, hemispheric gland; anthers lanceolate, apiculate. Capsule ellipsoid, nodding, 1–2 cm long (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Our plants are variety selwayensis (H.St.John) Owenby

Diagnostic Characteristics
Hybrids of C. elegans and C. apiculatus are known in Montana, these hybrids will be unattributable to either species. We have at least C. elegans var. selwayensis, which is distinguished from var. elegans by the straight, shallow, short petal glands. Also, var. selwayensis tends to have fewer hairs on the petals. Variety elegans may be present in NW Montana near the Kootenai River, where it would be nearly sympatric with var. selwayensis.

Species Range

Range Comments
WA to MT south to CA and ID (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 110

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Bedrock meadows, shallow soils and meadows in areas of Montana having a less extremely continental climate. Usually in open areas but sometimes in partial shade.

  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Fogelsong, M.L. 1974. Effects of fluorides on Peromyscus maniculatus in Glacier National Park. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 52 p.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
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Citation for data on this website:
Elegant Mariposa Lily — Calochortus elegans.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from