Gunnison's mariposa lily
The Rocky Mountains, from Wyoming to New Mexico; west to Utah and Arizona
Meadows, forest clearings, foothills, mountainsides; 4,000 to 11,000 feet
Up to 12 inches long; thin, grass-like, alternate, clasping
Calochortus gunnisonii is a typically large and beautiful member of the genus; its bell-shaped flowers have three broad, rounded white (rarely pink, magenta or pale yellow) petals and three thin, shorter, greenish, pointed sepals. In the middle is a ring of fine greenish-yellow hairs, below a thin, circular band of purple, all centered on six large anthers and a three pronged stigma. Flowers are about 2 inches in diameter. The thin, bendy stalks bear a few grass-like leaves, and can branch a few times towards the top. Stem and leaves are hairless. Plants sprout from (edible) bulbs, usually deeply buried.
Var gunnisonii, by far the most common variant, has white or purplish petals, while var perpulcher has pale yellow petals; this is found only in San Miguel and Mora counties, New Mexico.