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Butterfly Mariposa Back to Plant Page
Calochortus venustus

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About Butterfly Mariposa (Calochortus venustus) Calochortus venustus is a species of flowering plant in the lily family known by the common name butterfly mariposa lily. It is endemic to California, where it can be found in the sandy soils of a number of habitats in the mountains and foothills in the central part of the state. It is a perennial herb producing a branching stem 10 to 60 centimeters tall. There is a basal leaf up to 20 centimeters long which withers by the time the plant blooms. The flower cluster is a loose cluster of 1 to 6 erect, bell-shaped flowers. The flowers are variable in size and color pattern, though white is the most common color. They are often showy and intricately patterned. They generally have three curving sepals 2 or 3 centimeters long and three oval-shaped, clawed petals up to 5 centimeters long. The petals may be a variety of colors from white to pale pink or purple to bright red or orange, and sport a large dark central blotch and a smaller, paler blotch above. The fruit is an angled capsule 5 or 6 centimeters long. Although they tend to grow singly in the wild, they have more visual impact when massed in the garden. This plant needs summer dormancy, so withhold water after it has finished blooming.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Perennial herb

Max. Height
0.33 - 2 ft (0.1 - 0.6 m)

Max. Width
0.5 ft (0.2 m)

Upright Columnar

Summer Deciduous

Flower Color
Cream, Lavender, Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, White

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Sandy (often granitic) soil in grassy places, typically hilly areas of the Coast Ranges and Sierra foothills

Sun, Part Shade

Elevation ?
3' - 9077'

Annual Precip. ?
6.0" - 59.2"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 1.83"

Coldest Month ?
28.1° F - 56.0° F

Hottest Month ?
53.0° F - 79.2° F

Humidity ?
0.59 vpd - 29.47 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerates clay but prefers fast draining soil

Soil PH
5.0 - 8.0

Fast, Medium, Slow

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to -10° F

Sunset Zones ?
1, 2, 3, 7*, 9, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18*, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

Companion Plants
Grassland species such as other Calochortus species, Allium species, Milkweeds (Asclepias species), Brodiaea species, Amole (Chlorogalum species), Dichelostemma species, Firtillaria species, various native grasses and various annual wildflowers

Wildlife Attracted
Numerous insects are attracted to the flowers

Landscaping Information
Water Requirement ?
Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Very Popular

Propagation ?
Seed propagation is very slow. Best results come from buying bulbs.  For propagating by seed: No treatment.

Nursery Availability
Sometimes Available

Other Names
Common Names
Butterfly Mariposa Lily

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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