White Hyacinth

Common name: White Hyacinth

Scientific name: Triteleia hyacinthina
Family: Liliaceae (lily)
Habitat: grassland
Size: plant up to 15 inches tall, flower 1.4 to 2.5 cm across

Fun facts: Flowers are generally beetle pollinated.

Description: Member of the lily family. Each flower has three petals and three sepals. But in Triteleia the sepals are colored like the petals so that the flower appears to have six petals and no sepals. The flowers are white with a green central vein.

You may recall that Brodiaea have three stamens and three stamenoides. Dichelostemma have three true stamens and three stamenoides which have reduced stamens at their tips. The Triteleia have six true stamens and no stamenoides.

Life cycle: White Hyacinth is a bulb producing perennial. Early in the season, the plants produce one or a few grass-like leaves. By the time the flowers are ready to bloom, the leaves have dried up and the flowers bloom in umbels (clusters) on a tall leafless stem. Only older plants with well developed bulbs have enough stored energy to produce flowers in April or May. It can take four years or more forTriteleia to bloom the first time.

Ecology: Triteleia bulbs are an important food source for burrowing rodents such as Botta’s Pocket Gophers. The bulbs have a nutty flavor and Native Americans ate them as well.