Desert Mariposa Lily

Calochortus kennedyi

Mariposa Lily


Mariposa is the Spanish word for butterfly. A member of the lily (Liliaceae) family, this tall, slender, perennial shrub grows 2 to 18 inches high with thin gray leaves that are 4 to 8 inches long. Munz calls the desert mariposa lily "probably the most beautiful of desert wildflowers."

The genus Calochortus has numerous species, many of which are called a "Mariposa Lily." They are also referred to as star tulip or mariposa tulip and can vary greatly in color, displaying a variety of shades of yellow, orange or red flowers.


Mojave and Sonoran desert of southeastern California, western Arizona , southern Nevada and south into northern Mexico. Up to 6,500 feet.


Heavy soil in open areas of creosote/brush desert or pinyon/juniper woodlands.


One to six brilliant, red-orange flowers, 1 to 2 inches wide, bloom March through June. Each of the three fan-shaped petals has a maroon-to-brown splotch at the base. At higher elevations, flowers are more yellow than red.

More Wildflowers

We have an online wildflower field guide that is designed to help you identify desert wildflowers by color, scientific name, region and common name. The pictures are sized to work on the iPod, iPhone, iPad and similar devices. With your iPod or phone you will easily be able to identify wildflowers while in the desert. Links for downloads are on the bottom of the Wildflower Field Guide page.

Photo tips: Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a macro function - usually symbolized by the icon of a little flower. When you turn on that function, you allow your camera to get closer to the subject, looking into a flower for example. Or getting up close and personal with a bug. More on desert photography.

Mojave Desert Wildflowers - This book is the standard by which all other wildflower books are measured. The author, Jon Mark Stewart, has combined super photography with concise information. This book has an entire color page for each wildflower covered, with a discussion of the wildflower. 210 pages with 200 color photos. More...

What's Blooming Now - Check the Wildflower Reports

More Wildflowers


Related DesertUSA Pages


Share this page on Facebook:

DesertUSA Newsletter -- We send articles on hiking, camping and places to explore, as well as animals, wildflower reports, plant information and much more. Sign up below or read more about the DesertUSA newsletter here. (It's Free.)

The Desert Environment
The North American Deserts
Desert Geological Terms


Enter Email:

Shop desert store



Copyright © 1996- and Digital West Media, Inc. - -