Erythronium oregonum

I apologize for the lack of a photograph yesterday, but I had student projects to evaluate for end-of-term during the day and then attended the successful Collectors’ Plant Auction last night.

Today’s photograph is shared by a UBC horticulturist Mathew Vis-Dunbar, who also attended the Native Plant Society of BC‘s field trip to Galiano last weekend. I am hoping that someone took a photo of Mathew while he was photographing this group of flowers from ground-level.

Erythronium oregonum joins what is now a respectable series of fawn-lilies on BPotD: Erythronium grandiflorum, Erythronium revolutum, Erythronium americanum and Erythronium montanum. These five species represent approximately a fifth of the recognized species of Erythronium. As its epithet implies, giant white fawn-lily (or deer’s tongue) is a native to the west coast of North America, specifically British Columbia, Washington and Oregon (and, depending on interpretation of the species, California) west of the Cascade Mountains. Its common name of deer’s tongue is due to its oft-mottled foliage, photographs of which can be seen on the Erythronium oregonum page via the Burke Museum.

We encountered this species in multiple locations on Galiano. The best location was Bellhouse Provincial Park (and the road leading to it), where the plants could be found en masse in populations of a few hundred. To my eye, plants growing in shadier and moister conditions seemed a bit more robust than those exposed to more sunlight and drier substrates.

The Flora of North America has a technical description of Erythronium oregonum while the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Centre has some horticultural information on giant white fawn-lily.

Erythronium oregonum

16 responses to “Erythronium oregonum”

  1. tony maniezzo

    great photo matthew…..from a slugs perspective

  2. Robin Schachat

    These are beautiful. Good old E. americanum is blooming here in NE Ohio right now. It is so thick on the ground in the park across the street that you can’t step off the path without squashing scores of them!

  3. Beverley

    Erythronium oregonum – Z5 – Index of Garden Plants, Griffiths.
    Erythronium oregonum – Z3-9 – A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, Brickell, Cole, Zuk.
    Erythronium, er-ith-ro-ne-um; from Gr. erythros, red, that being the colour of the flowers of earlier species introduced. Plant Names Simplified, Johnson and Smith. oregonum o-ree-go-num. Of Oregon. Dictionary of Plant Names, Coombes.

  4. Meg Bernstein

    Some shot! I will remember to put my camera on the ground after this.

  5. Karen Newbern

    Other common names for this genus include trout lily (referring to the spotted leaves), adder’s tongue and dogtooth violet.

  6. Marti Ives

    Being a Texan, was glad to see the Lady Bird Wild Flower Centre in print on this site. A great place…The Centre is near Austin in the beautiful hill country. Ya’ll come.

  7. Connie

    How lovely! I have admired these all my life, but haven’t actually enjoyed them from this angle for over 40 years. How tall are these? Our little yellow ones back east rarely top 6″.

  8. elizabeth a airhart

    the blooms look like ballet dancers
    thank you

  9. annie morgan

    Marvellous angle!!

  10. sandyinz4

    Daniel, Never feel you have to apologize for missing a day. You give us so much pleasure so many days of the year that you can surely do some other things with your life once in a while! 🙂 Thanks for all you do.

  11. Paige

    Daniel, I had been thinking about the great effort you make each day to bring these beautiful photos and interesting information to us when I read your apology about missing one day. Please don’t apologize. We thank you for the daily enhancement of our lives. I found your site thru Fine Gardening magazine

  12. Diane Whitehead

    They were always called Easter Lilies in Victoria when I was young, and it was customary to pick bouquets of them. We were careful not to pick the leaves, and disapproved of people who did, and of those who picked bunches so big they needed both hands to hold the stems.
    There were often multiple flowers on the stem, and we would try to find the one with the most. I think seven was the highest number.
    It has been many years since people stopped the springtime picking expeditions. Now erythroniums are blooming even along sidewalks near schools – where they never would have remained sixty years ago – they would have been gracing the teacher’s desk, an offering from a pupil.

  13. Margaret-Rae Davis

    Another good photo and of a lily . I really love to see all the different lillies. The write-up was so good and I enjoyed learning more.
    Thank You,

  14. Tom Wheeler

    OK, Daniel this old trout will rise for the lure. Are you calling them giant white fawn lily because of the photo that portrays E. oregonum ssp. oregonum as Douglas fir wanna-bes? An accepted name in BC is white fawn lily. Yup, trout lily, Easter lily. The common name, Easter Lily was used on Vancouver Island because of the plant’s habit of flowering around Easter. On some sites, white fawn lily flowers will be on their way out as the camas reach their prime. Good idea to get down on the ground! Often, in dappled sunlight I have difficulty with the sun lighting up the petals too much. I like to look inside the flowers for colour variation–yellow to orange!
    Love to see the native plants of BC!

  15. cambree

    Beautiful. Have never seen them, but would love to have catch them in bloom in the woods. Thanks Daniel.

  16. Ed Alverson

    I suspect that the reason for the common name “giant white fawn lily” is that until 1935, this species was known as Erythronium giganteum. However, Elmer Applegate demonstrated that the type specimen of E. giganteum, collected by david Douglas in 1826, was actually the yellow-flowered species we know as E. grandiflorum, and thus proposed the name E. oregonum for this white-flowered species. Thus, I suspect, the common name is a reference to an illegitimate former scientific name. E. oregonum is one of the largest of all the species of Erythronium, I saw some plants a couple of days ago that were about 2 feet tall in flower, so this common name is still applicable. The only Erythronium I have seen that is larger than E. oregonum is Erythronium pusateri, a local endemic of the southern Sierra Nevada Mts. in California.

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