SANTA ROSA PLATEAU: Go See the Chocolate Lily

With camera in hand, I headed out to Vernal Pools Trail today at the Santa Rosa Plateau. I wanted to see if the SUPER BLOOM had reached this area…almost. I saw only a few wildflowers, and spent most of my time with two: One was the Chocolate Lily, and the other was the Shooting Star. These were taken with a 50mm fixed lens at f/1.4, mostly on my belly. Nature is amazing. I’m primarily a headshot/portrait photographer, so in a sense, these are flower headshots.



COMMON NAME: Chocolate Lily. The Chocolate Lily is also known as the black lily.

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Fritillaria camschatcensis
DESCRIPTION: Chocolate lilies are named after the color of their blossom. The 9- to 18-inch-tall stem is topped by one to eight bell-shaped nodding flowers, 1 1/4 inches long. These blooms appear dark purple, almost black. Three whorls of lance-shaped leaves grow around the stem.
Chocolate lilies are native around the Pacific Ocean including Japan, Alaska and the northwestern United States. In the wild, these flowers are found growing near lakes and streams as well as in wet meadows, marches, sphagnum bogs and forest wetlands. Chocolate lilies grow below 3,000 feet elevation down to sea level.
STRUCTUREThe rooting structure of the Chocolate lily is made up of small bulblets resembling rice, and was called Indian rice at one time. This perennial bulb provided a food source, eaten raw or cooked, before European settlers arrived in western North America. Dried bulbs of the Chocolate lily were added to soup or pounded into flour.
GROWTH: Chocolate lilies can take up to a full year to sprout, which usually occurs in the spring.
FASCINATING: Chocolate lilies do not smell like chocolate; they smell like carrion (dead animal). The name makes for excellent practical jokes! By smelling like carrion, they attract flies. When the flies come into investigate, they pick up pollen spores. When they move to the next flower, they will bring those pollen grains and help to pollinate it. The bulbs of this flower are edible and were called rice lilies by Inuit tribes
LOCAL SIGHTINGS: The Chocolate Lily can be seen off the Vernal Pools Trail at the Santa Rosa Plateau in Murrieta, CA.

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