The plant exhibits a slender stem emanating from a base bulblet, that attains a height of 20 to 50 centimeters (cm).The basal leaves are persistent and extend from 10 to 20 cm. There are one to seven bowl shaped flowers per plant, with bracts that reach one to eight cm. Petals open wide in the daytime and enclose when light intensity lessens in the late afternoon. There are three long narrow tapered sepals two to three cm wide, and may be straight, recurved or coiled; the three deep yellow petals are each 2.5 to 5 cm wide. Each petal has red stippling below, with individual variation comprising endless patterns. Petals are fan shaped at the tip. Pale yellow anthers are eight to ten mm in extent. The oblong to crescent shaped nectary is coated with sparse short slender hairs. This nectary is the best diagnostic to distinguish C. superba, which has a squarish nectary geometry. A red-brown blotch usually is present near the inside center of each petal. Fruits are erect, three to six cm, and their shape is angled and narrowly lanceolate.
- C. Michael Hogan. 2009. Calochortus luteus, Yellow Mariposa Lily. GlobalTwitcher./a> ed. N.Stromberg
- Jepson Manual. 1993. Calochortus luteus, University of California, Berkeley
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