A Perfect Gift

Mariposa (Sego) Lillies with Louie

Thursday, July 18, 2019

This is a blockbuster summer for the often elusive Mariposa (or Sego) Lily. Every summer I look for the plant which sometimes doesn’t appear. This year, our unusual weather–lots of rain patches alternating with dry spells–has altered the usual. Right now, my property has stands of these perinneals and the sight of them makes me happy.

Most summers, I hope to find growing here or there on my small acreage one or a scattered few of these lilies. My fascination with this flower began a dozen years ago when I often rode horseback in nearby desert areas. I’d occasionally spot a lovely flower, on a long stem standing alone, in an intriguing shade of purple. After asking around, I learned that they’re known as Sego lilies. Later, I came to understand that they’re also called Mariposa lilies.

Historically, Native Americans used this lily’s roots and seeds as a food source and called the flowers “Sego”, which is how the name evolved. The Indians native to Utah taught Morman pioneers how to use this plant for food. Its importance eventually turned the gentle Sego Lily into Utah’s State Flower. This lily thrives in the dry, sandy soils of open sagebrush areas and grows among Ponderosa pines at moderate elevations.

Here in Central Oregon, on the east side of the Cascade Mountains, our soil is dry, sandy, and loosely surrounded by Ponderosas. The Sego lily has a tendency to reappear briefly in July and August, to wish us a happy summer. This year, the weather and soil conditions have these purple lilies blooming.

Dear Friends: They’re perfect and just one among Nature’s recurring gifts! Diana

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