The Q&A Archives: Plant Identification

Question: On the property we rented there are a few flowers that found in late June, that I do not know what they are. They look like an iris. The leaves are a long sword shape, long stems, the blossoms have 3 petals, the color is a mix of dark purple and royal blue with white middles, the buds look like paint brushes before they open. What are they and can I transplant these in a flower pot or large container?

Answer: It's difficult to positively identify a plant by a description, but you may have found the Sub-Alpine Mariposa Lily (Calochortus subalpinus). There are several subspecies; 'Tolmie's mariposa lily', 'Sego lily', and 'Mountain Cat's Ear'. To help you decide which one you've discovered, check out the book 'Plants of the Pacific Northwet Coast' by Pojar & Mackinnon, ISBN# 1-555105-040-4. There are detailed descriptions and pictures of each plant. Since the plants are on your property, you can legally remove and transplant them, but native plants are difficult to transplant. Try waiting until fall when the foliage dies down naturally, and then digging a wide and deep hole, so as not to disturb the bulb too much. Plant in regular soil at the same depth the bulb was growing in it's native habitat.

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