One of the widest ranging species of the genus, Calochortus tolmiei has soft hairy petals that are a common and enjoyable site in upland prairies of the Willamette Valley.
It inhabits a variety of temperate biomes, including: montane woodlands, upland prairie, valley grasslands and coastal cliffs (Gerritsen and Parsons 2007); from sea level to 2000 meters; serpentine and rocky soils are tolerated by C. tolmiei (Fielder and Zebell 2002).
Perennial herbs up to 40 cm tall with a single long narrow basal leaf with two or more bracts and one to a few often branching stems arising from a membrane coated bulb (Ownbey 1940). Leaf coloration is green with possible hints of red; these produce from one to ten, six segmented flowers with a shallow bell shape that may be upright or slightly nodding downward; consisting of three densely hairy petals alternating in front of three narrow, pointed and usually hairless sepals of a darker hue (Fielder and Zebell 2002). Calochortus tolmiei can be found from central California to the Washington border and is highly polymorphic in regards to the density of petal hair, petal size, sepal length, and petal coloration (from white to purple or a mixture of the two) throughout its range (Gerritsen and Parsons 2007). The petals range from disk to spade in shape, often with a dark crescent shaped nectary at their base, which emits a faintly spicy aroma. The flowers appear from mid-April to late July. Fruits are three-winged capsules (Francis 1996).
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