Calochortus umpquaensis - N.A. Fredricks
Umpqua Mariposa Lily
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Calochortus umpquaensis N.A. Fredricks (TSN 501150)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.133753
Element Code: PMLIL0D1P0
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Lily Family
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Monocotyledoneae Liliales Liliaceae Calochortus
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Calochortus umpquaensis
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 20Apr2010
Global Status Last Changed: 20Apr2010
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Largely restricted to serpentine soils in the Umpqua River drainage, Douglas County, southwestern Oregon, with two small outlying occurrences known from adjacent Josephine and Jackson counties. Approximately 14-17 occurrences are believed extant; two of these are located on private lands, with the remainder relatively evenly split between Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS)-managed lands. Many of the occurrences are somewhat small, but several contain thousands of individuals, and one on BLM lands is reported to harbor an estimated 400,000 - 800,000 individuals. In the mid-1990s, logging and cattle grazing were believed to be significant threats. However, in 1996, a conservation agreement was signed by the BLM, USFS, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that addressed these two issues, at least on public lands. Other threats include significant consumption of reproductive structures by native herbivores (e.g. deer) at some sites, competition from weedy non-native species, bulb collection, potentially reduced habitat quality due to fire suppression, and the potential for mining of the nickel-rich soils in which the plant occurs.
Nation: United States
National Status: N3

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Oregon (S3)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Largely restricted to the Umpqua River drainage in the Klamath Mountains region, Douglas County, southwestern Oregon. Most occurrences are known from Watson and Ace Williams Mountains. One occurrence has been found in adjacent northern Josephine County and one in adjacent northern Jackson County, but both of these occurrences are believed to have poor viability.

Area of Occupancy: 26-500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Using a 2 x 2 km grid, approximately 14 grid cells are occupied.

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: Approximately 8-10 occurrences are believed extant (depending on whether or not relatively nearby clusters of plants are considered the same occurrence). This species was first described in 1989; it is possible that future surveys may discover additional populations (Oregon Department of Agriculture 2008).

Population Size Comments: This species can be locally abundant. Although most populations are somewhat small, several sites support thousands of individuals (Oregon Department of Agriculture 2008). One population on BLM lands is reported to be quite large, harboring an estimated 400,000 - 800,000 individuals (USFWS 2000); however, this estimate requires further confirmation. Excluding that recent count, the number of known plants is less than 47,000, with possibly up to 100,000 suspected to be recorded eventually (S. Vrilakas pers. comm. 2009).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Few (4-12)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Approximately 4-7 occurrences are believed to have excellent or good viability.

Overall Threat Impact: High
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Logging and associated road construction and disturbance were noted as a threat in the mid-1990s (USFWS 1995), when several occurrences were impacted. The conservation agreement signed by the BLM, Forest Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service in 1996 reduces the logging threat for occurrences on Federal land (the majority of known occurrences). However, plants on private lands may still be threatened. Cattle grazing was also noted as a threat in the mid-1990s (Parenti 1992, USFWS 1995); although cattle grazing on BLM lands at that time was not extensive, studies had shown that cattle grazing could significantly impact this species, and there was concern that the plants would be vulnerable should grazing on BLM lands increase. The conservation agreement signed in 1996 also addressed grazing impacts, so the likelihood of this threat now appears to be reduced, except on private lands. Consumption of buds, flowers, and capsules by native herbivores (particularly deer and rabbits) has also been observed to significantly reduce seed production and subsequent recruitment at some sites (Parenti 1992, USFWS 1995); this threat is presumably ongoing. Other potential threats include mining of the nickel-bearing soils on which the species occurs, digging of bulbs for horticultural purposes, and competition from weedy non-native species (Fredricks 1989, Parenti 1992, USFWS 1995, Oregon Department of Agriculture 2008). Fire suppression may also decrease habitat quality in some areas, as meadow or ecotonal habitats succeed to closed-canopy forests (Kagan 1992, Vance et al. 2003).

Short-term Trend: Decline of <30% to relatively stable
Short-term Trend Comments: Although believed to be declining in 1995 (USFWS 1995), the species was described as stable in 2000 (USFWS 2000). A three-year demographic study also reported that populations appeared to be more or less stable at the five sites studied (Fredricks 1992 cited in Guerrant 2007).

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Seed bank non-existent (Kagan 1993); low recruitment (Kagan 1993, Fredericks 1989). Because of low survival rate for seedlings, recolonization may take a while after disturbance.

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements scarce.
Environmental Specificity Comments: Serpentine endemic.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Global Range: Largely restricted to the Umpqua River drainage in the Klamath Mountains region, Douglas County, southwestern Oregon. Most occurrences are known from Watson and Ace Williams Mountains. One occurrence has been found in adjacent northern Josephine County and one in adjacent northern Jackson County, but both of these occurrences are believed to have poor viability.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States OR

Range Map
No map available.

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
OR Douglas (41019), Jackson (41029), Josephine (41033)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
17 North Umpqua (17100301)+, South Umpqua (17100302)+, Middle Rogue (17100308)+, Lower Rogue (17100310)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: A bulbous perennial herb, 2-3(-5) dm tall, with slender, unbranched stems. Each plant has 1 narrow, clasping basal leaf 2-3 dm long, with hairs in parallel rows along the veins on its underside; also 1 stem leaf. Produces 1-5 white-cream, broadly cup-shaped 3-petaled flowers. Each petal is 3.5-4 cm long and has a dark purple-black (sometimes reddish) spot; the inner petal face has dense purplish hairs toward the base. Fruits are large (3-5.4 cm) capsules; their stalks bend toward the ground shortly after the flowers wilt. Flowering May-July.
General Description: This lily-like perennial herb has a slender, erect growing bloom stalk averaging 2-3 dm tall.
The solitary basal leaf is 2-3 dm long, narrow, clasping the stem, and with with short hairs along the parallel veins of the inner surface.Plants also have one stem leaf. Each plant has 1 to 5 showy, cup-shaped, white to cream flowers with 3 petals, each 3.5-4 cm long and having a dark purple-black five-sided to crescent-shaped petal spot. The petals are sparsely hairy with white hairs near the tip to more densely hairy with dark hairs at the base. The 3 sepals are 3/4 the length of the petals and greenish white. The capsule is pendant, up to 5.4 cm long.

Technical Description: Bulbous, perennial herb. Bulb ovoid with membranaceous coats. Stem erect, slender, not branching, averaging 2-3 dm long, glabrous or glaucous. Basal leaf solitary, narrowly lanceolate, base clasping, abxial surface glabrous, sometimes glaucous, adaxial surface hispid, with hyaline trichomes on ridges; cauline leaf one. Bracts two, subopposite, narrowly lanceolate. Inflorescence 1-several flowered. Flowers erect, campanulate; sepals lanceolate-acuminate, about 2 cm long; petals white to cream with dark purple-black, pentagonal to crescent-shaped petal spot, broad to narrowly obovate, ca. 3.5-4 cm long, erose on the margins, outer petal face glabrous, inner petal face with dense purplish hairs on lower half of petal and increasingly sparse white hairs on upper half; gland slightly depressed with 0.7-1.4 mm wide band of short dendritic trichomes, fluorescing in ultraviolet light; anthers lanceolate, acuminate. Capsules 3.0-5.4 cm long, averaging ca. 4.1 cm, pendent at maturity;seed 2.8-3.5 mm long, averaging 3.3 mm, with inflated bulbous crest and hollow lateral ridge. 2n = 20 (Fredricks 1989).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Calochortus umpquaensis differs from C. howellii in its longer capsules (mean length 4.12 cm vs. 1.95 cm in C. howellii) that become pendant shortly after the perianth senesces (vs. remaining erect through seed dispersal in C. howellii). It also has longer petals (2.5-4.6 cm with mean 3.5 cm vs. 1.9-3.0 cm with mean 2.66 cm in C. howellii) that are characterized by a dark purple patch with purple trichomes directly distal to the gland; in C. howellii, only the trichomes distal to the gland are purple-pigmented with the underlying tissue being lime green. Petals of C. umpquaensis also have longer (2-7 mm vs. 1-2 mm), denser trichomes than those of C. howellii. In addition, C. umpquaensis plants have lighter, shorter seeds (mean weight 1.7 mg and mean length 3.1 mm [range 2.4-3.7 mm], vs. mean weight 3.6 mg and mean length 4.2 mm [range 3.5-5.1 mm] in C. howellii) that are blunt-ended and oblong (vs. angular, irregularly flattened, often crescent-shaped in C. howellii). Finally, the ranges of these two species do not generally overlap, as C. howellii is restricted to the Illinois River Valley, and C. umpquaensis has not been reported from this area (Fredricks 1989).
Calochortus coxii differs from C. umpquaensis by its deeply (as opposed to shallowly) cupped pale pink/lavender to white flowers with a band of yellow hairs above pink petal spots. In southwestern Oregon, only C. umpquaensis, C. howellii, and C. coxii have leaves that are hairy on one side and smooth on the other.
Calochortus tolmiei also differs from C. umpquaensis by its smaller (1.2- 2.5 cm) petals that are white, yellowish white, or pale lilac in color, with inner faces densely hairy throughout.Petals of C. tolmei and C. coxii are held upright throughout flowering, while C. umpquaensis petals tend to spread at inflorescence
Calochortus uniflorus differs from C. umpquaensis by its pink flowers, distinctive blue pollen, few or no hairs on the petals, and tendency to produce bulblets at the base of the leaf
Calochortus greenei differs from C. umpquaensis by its lilac petals and glabrous inner leaf surface (Oregon Department of Agriculture 2008, Oregon Flora Project 2009).

Reproduction Comments: In Calochortus generally, sexual reproduction tends to be uncertain, due to factors such as vertebrate predation on fruits and limited pollination. Reproduction is therefore the limiting factor for most rare Calochortus; because of this, these species rely on high survival rates of reproductive plants for population persistence. Reproduction and mortality events appear episodic (Fiedler et al. 1998).
The genus Calochortus also appears to have poor seed dispersal; fruits are borne close to the ground, and seeds are relatively heavy with no apparent morphological adaptations promoting long-distance dispersal (Patterson and Givnish 2003).

Ecology Comments: Fredricks (1992 cited in Guerrant 2007) studied populations across the range of habitats that this species occupies. On average, individuals were denser, produced more buds, and were larger in the ecotone habitat. The higher density did not seem to result from reduced competition, as vegetative cover was highest in the ecotone. Instead, it is possible that decreased light levels in the forest and low moisture in the meadow limited growth. C. umpquaensis may be more successful in ecotonal habitats because this area contains a combination of adequate moisture necessary for seedling survival and adequate light required for adult reproduction. High capsule abortion in forested habitats suggests that pollinators may also be less active in this cooler, more shaded setting (Fredricks 1992 cited in Guerrant 2007). Demographic studies revealed a positive correlation between February through May precipitation and flower production (Fredricks 1992 cited in Guerrant 2007). Microhabitats strongly influenced seedling establishment, with plants rarely establishing in close proximity to other vegetation, and seeming to prefer leaf litter microsites in forest and ecotone habitats but mossy microsites in meadow habitats, where desiccation poses a greater threat (Fredricks 1992 cited in Guerrant 2007).
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Barrens, Forest - Conifer, Forest Edge, Forest/Woodland, Grassland/herbaceous, Woodland - Conifer
Habitat Comments: Largely restricted to serpentine-derived soils that are especially high in nickel, cadmium, magnesium and phosphorous. Found within a rather broad continuum of habitats, from closed canopy coniferous forests (e.g. Pinus jeffreyi, Pseudotsuga menziesii, Calocedrus decurrens, and Arbutus menziesii) to rather open, species-rich, grass-forb meadows, on a diversity of aspects and slopes. Seems to be most vigorous and abundant in ecotonal habitats, at the transition between forests/woodlands and meadows. In addition to the trees noted above, associated species include Arabis oregana (Oregon rockcress), Aspidotis densa (Indian's dream), Balsamorhiza sericea (Silky balsamroot), Calochortus tolmiei (Tolmie star-tulip), Camassia howelli (Howell's camas), Danthonia californica (California oatgrass), Festuca idahoensis (Idaho fescue), Festuca roemeri (Roemer's fescue), Lewisia cotyledon (Siskiyou lewisia), Madia elegans var. densifolia (Showy tarweed), Minuartia cismontana (Cismontane minuartia), Phacelia capitata (Clustered phacelia), Plectritis congesta (Short-spur seablush), and Silene hookeri ssp. hookeri (Hooker's silene). 245-830 m.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary
Stewardship Overview: Livestock grazing and vehicle access within the species' habitat should be restricted by installing gates and fences (BLM 2007). To the extent feasible, it would also be desirable to reduce grazing pressure from native herbivores (e.g. deer and rabbits) at the sites where it currently has a significant impact on reproduction (Fiedler et al. 1998). At sites where they are currently posing a competitive threat (or might be predicted to do so in the future), non-native species should be controlled, and the area restoring with appropriate native species (BLM 2007). Finally, prescribed burning and/or thinning treatments would likely benefit the species at at least some sites. Kagan (1992) points out that the Douglas fir-dominated forests in which this species occurs have a natural fire frequency of 10-20 years; current fires tend to occur at much longer intervals. Although this species can persist in closed-canopy forest sites, it appears to grow and reproduce best in forest-meadow ecotones (Fredricks 1992 cited in Guerrant 2007). Vance et al. (2003) studied the effects of overstroy thinning and spot burning at Ace Williams Mountain and found that these treatments significantly increased both the total number of plants and the proportion of plants flowering. This management strategy therefore appears promising for use at other similar sites.
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 17Oct1996
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: S. Vrilakas and J. Kagan, rev. K. Gravuer (2009)
Management Information Edition Date: 23Jul2009
Management Information Edition Author: Gravuer, K.

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

  • Fiedler, P. L., B. E. Knapp, and N. Fredricks. 1998. Rare plant demography: Lessons from the mariposa lilies (Calochortus: Liliaceae). pgs. 28-48 in Fiedler, P. L. and P. M. Kareiva, eds. Conservation Biology: For the Coming Decade. Second edition. Springer, New York, NY. 533 pp.

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2002a. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 26. Magnoliophyta: Liliidae: Liliales and Orchidales. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xxvi + 723 pp.

  • Fredricks, N.A. 1989. Morphological comparison of Calochortus howellii and a new species from southwestern Oregon, C. umpquaensis (Liliaceae). Systematic Botany 14(1):7-15.

  • Guerrant, E. 2007, 5 June last update. National Collection Plant Profile: Calochortus umpquaensis. Center for Plant Conservation. Online. Available: (Accessed 2009).

  • Kagan, J. 1992. Draft species management guide for Calochortus umpquaensis Fredricks. Roseburg District of the Bureau of Land Management and Umpqua National Forest. Unpublished. [Abstract Only]

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Oregon Department of Agriculture, Plant Division, Native Plant Conservation Program. 2008, 2 June last update. Oregon Listed Plant Profiles: Endangered: Umpqua mariposa lily (Calochortus umpquaensis). Online. Available: (Accessed 2009).

  • Oregon Flora Project. 2009 last update. Rare Plant Guide. Online. Available: (Accessed 2009).

  • Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center. 2009. Oregon threatened or endangered plant field guide. Online. Available: (Accessed 2009).

  • Parenti, R. 1992. Candidate Category/Listing Priority Numbers Assignment Form: Calochortus umpquaensis (Umpqua mariposa lily). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Boise Field Office. 30 August 1992.

  • Patterson, T. B. and T. J. Givnish. 2003. Geographic cohesion, chromosomal evolution, parallel adaptive radiations, and consequent floral adaptations in Calochortus (Calochortaceae): evidence from a cpDNA phylogeny. New Phytologist 161: 253-264.

  • U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM). 2007. Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Revision of the Resource Management Plans for the Western Oregon Bureau of Land Management Districts of Salem, Eugene, Roseburg, Coos Bay, and Medford Districts, and the Klamath Falls Resource Area of the Lakeview District. BLM Oregon State Office, Portland, OR. Online. Available: (Accessed 2009)

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1995. Category and listing priority assignment form: Calochortus umpquaensis (Umpqua mariposa). Lead Field Office: Western Oregon Field Office. 5 pp.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2000. Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; Notice of reclassification of nine candidate taxa. Federal Register Vol. 65, No. 204 (October 20). pp. 63044-63047.

  • U.S. Forest Service (USFS). 2005, 31 October last update. Forest Service Sensitive Species that are not listed or proposed under the ESA. Online. Available: (Accessed 2009)

  • Vance, N., D. Mikowski, and R. Holmes. 2003. Evaluating effect of overstory removal and fire in restoring habitat of the rare mariposa lily Calochortus umpquaensis. [Poster Abstract] Innovations in Species Conservation: Integrative Approaches to Address Rarity & Risk Symposium. April 28-30, Portland, OR. Online. Available: (Accessed 2009)

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