Lilium nevadense

Eastwood 1933

Sasquatch lily

Lilium nevadense (H.F. Comber) from W. A. Constable's: the lily enthusiast


  • Section: Pseudolirium (North America)
  • Origin: West Coast United States
  • Habitat: mountainous riparian and wet areas
  • Type: American wetland
  • Status: so rare it's mythical

Lilium nevedaense is as rare and as elusive as sasquatch, or lilium unobtainium. Yet there are those who still insist it exists. And in a manner of speaking it does, it just doesn't exist under the nomenclature Lilium nevadense any longer. But perhaps at night when the lightning strikes and the jackalopes come out of their dens to sing their eerie songs, you will find Lilium nevadense atop a hill with jackalope and sasquatch, and maybe even Tree octopus, but only when the lightning reveals them, it's that rare. Sasquatches feed on Lilium nevadense bulbs. They share them with jackalopes who offer their milk of immortality in exchange in a symbiotic relationship.

The oldest reference to Lilium nevadense I could find without wasting more of life, is that the nomenclature dates back to the 1930s and refers to a similar looking group of lilies growing in the Sierra Nevada mountains near Lake Tahoe and Mt. Shasta. The first recorded use of Lilium nevadense (also called Lilium pardalinum minor according to Constable) I could find is in W. A. Constables, The lily Enthusiast (Pg. 78-80). Later Patrick Synge in his book, Lilies: A revision of Elwes' monograph on the genus Lilium and its supplements, on pages 176-177 describes Lilium nevadense as similar to Lilium vollmeri but occurring more south in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

He quotes Purdy,

Go with me in the Coast Range mountains to where in the bosom some living stream has formed a little vale deep with sandy loam and gravel from the surrounding granite slopes, and there overtopping the tall grasses and weeds which stimulated to a luxurious growth I will show you this beautiful lily higher than a man is tall and glorious in its orange and red bloom, its bulb in a sharp well-drained and gravel wash, it’s roots running down to abundant moisture. In such spots it grows by the acers, or did, unitl man with his plow and hog came. I have often seen masses so think you could hardly walk between plants, 200-300 bulbs solidly matter together as if one. It glories in the air and sunshine and where the streambanks overflow it grows by the 1,000s. In cultivation where land will grow potatoes it will grow, but never to the glory to be found in the wild western mountains.” (C. Purdy)

Photo from the page of Constable's Lilies describing Lilium nevadense

Alice Eastwood in Leaflets of Western Botany (Vol 1, No. 5, Jan 9, 1933, pg. 41-43), first describes Lilium nevadense


Lilium nevadense Eastwood, spec. nov. Caulis strictus, scabropuberulens, solitarius ex bulbo squamoso, rhizomato; squamis numerosis, basi articulatis; foliis inferioribus paucis, alternis, superioribus 4-7—verticillatis alternisve, oblongo-lanceolatis, 5-lS cm. longis, 2-4 cm. latis, glabris, trinervatis; pedunculis longis, rectis, apice, recurvatis; floribus nutantibus, alabastris lanceolatis, 4-5 cm. longis, perianthi segmentis lanceolatis, recurvatissimis, rubris, aurantiacis vel flavis, maculatis; pistillo et staminibus exsertis, antheris rubiginosis, 5 mm. longis, 2 mm. latis; capsulis strictis, oblongis, basi et apice truncatis, 2.5 cm. longis, 2 cm. latis, breve stipitatis; seminibus obliquo-cuneatis, papillosis, 5 mm. latis.

Type : No. 169002, Herb. Calif. Acad. Sci., collected by the
author, July, 1912, No. 799, on the George Dillman ranch. Goose
Valley, Shasta County, California.

This has been included under Lilium pardalinum Kellogg, the large-flowered tiger lily, from which it differs in the smaller and generally fewer flowers, the short anthers, the broad lanceolate leaves, and the single stem arising from the bulb. The following collections also represent this species in the Herbarium of the California Academy of Sciences: Gold Lake region, Plumas County, and Salmon Lake, Sierra County, Mrs. E. C. Sutliffe; Lake Almanor and Greenville, Plumas County, Mary Strong Clemens; Kelly Camp, Mount Lassen National Park,

Mrs. E. C. Van Dyke; Lake Center Camp, Feather River region, Miss Anna Head; near Shasta Springs, Siskiyou County, A. A. Heller; Castella, Shasta County, L. E. Smith; Jonesville, Butte
County, Dr. E. B. Copeland; Prospect Peak, Mount Lassen National Park, A. H. Kramer; Castle Lake and Shasta Springs, Siskiyou County, and Forest Lodge near Greenville, Plumas County, Alice Eastwood.

Lilium nevadense var. monense Eastwood, var. nov. Perianthi basis obtusior quam basis typi et campanulatus.

Type : No. 179135, Herb. CaHf. Acad. Sci., collected by Miss Enid Larson, June 21, 1925, along the highway at Rock Creek, Mono County, California. Another specimen from Mono County was collected by Mrs. C. H. Silva, with no definite
locality recorded.

Lilium nevadense var. fresnense Eastwood, var. nov. Alabastrum. 3.5 cm. longum; perianthi segmentis 5 mm. latis, pedunculis gracilioribus et longioribus quam pedunculis typi.

Type : No. 168984, Herb. Calif. Acad. Sci., collected by Miss Julia McDonald, July, 1915, in the Big Creek region, Fresno County, California. Miss McDonald also collected the variety
at Huntington Lake, July, 1926.

Lilium nevadense var. shastense Eastwood, var. nov. Folia stricta, linearia vel angusto lanceolata in verticillis propinquis; alabastris 4-5 cm. longis.

Type: No. 108996, Herb. Calif. Acad. Sci., collected by the author, No. 799A, on the George Dillman ranch, Goose Valley, Shasta County, California. Other specimens in the Herbarium of the California Academy of Sciences are : Prattville, Plumas County, Mrs. A. L. Coombs; Gold Lake, Plumas County, Mrs. E. C. Sutliffe; Gray Eagle Meadow and Green Lake, Plumas County, Miss Anna Head; Montgomery Creek, Shasta County, Ellsworth Bethel; northeast base of Mount Eddy, Siskiyou County, A. A. Heller.

Lilium nevadense and its varieties include the small-flowered tiger lilies of the Sierra Nevada. In the typical L. nevadense the single stems with generally one to few flowers arise from the bulb, the leaves are broadly lance-shaped, the flowers half the size of true L. pardalinum, and the anthers are about half as long. The variety from Mono County has the flowers more open-spreading owing to the shorter ovary. The variety from Fresno County has flowers about the size of L. parvum but with the petals much-reflexed and with the flowers drooping at the end of the long, slender, erect peduncles. The variety from Plumas, Shasta, and Siskiyou counties has the leaves much narrower than in the type, and more numerous.

The small-flowered L. pardalinum of the southern Sierra Nevada is L. pardalinum var. parviflorum Eastwood. It has smaller flowers than the typical L. paradalinum but has the long anthers and the many stems from the bulb that are characteristic of that species. In Shasta, Siskiyou, and Trinity counties another small-flowered L. pardalinum grows. It has the narrow leaves of L. nevadense var. shastense, but has the long anthers and robust habit of true L. pardalinum and is perhaps L. pardalinum var. angustifolium Kellogg.

End quote****

As you can see from the description, gods only know what they are referring to other than a common grouping of lilies from a similar geographical location.

This monoculture has also been applied to Lilium kelleyanum as well. But without pictures it's difficult to tell what currently recognized species they are referring to. But I can tell you is that as of this date, there is no western American species in the section Pseudolirium called Lilium nevadense. It is an extinct nomenclature used to reference several subtypes of Lilium pardalinum and Lilium kelleyanum but it is no longer in use. It may be referenced as a common name to refer to a subtype or similar geographical group of L. pardalinum to distinguish where a particular form of Lilium pardalinum was collected, but as a recognized species it no longer exists. Whatever lilies were originally collected and called Lilium nevadense are now saftey under the auspices of the Lilium pardalinum complex.