The Utah State Flower

Utah State Flower

The official Utah state flower is the Calachortus Nuttalli, or more commonly referred to as the “Sego Lily”. The Sego Lily is native to the Western United States, and thrives in many drier areas.

 Scientific Name

The Scientific name of Sego Lily is Calachortus Nuttalli.

 Geographic Origin

The plant is native to Western states, including the following:

The Sego Lily generally prefers open grass or sage lands and does not need the soil to be excessively moist, but it does require depth to spread its roots.

Native Americans that were living in these areas before contact with the new world reportedly roasted or boiled the bulbs of the plants, making a type of porridge to be eaten.

 Description and Characteristics

On March 18, 1911 the State Legislature officially declared the Sego Lily the official state flower of Utah. The Mormon Pioneers, the first non-Native Americans to settle the Great Salt Lake Area, experienced a shortage of food from 1840-1851.

Crickets had destroyed many of the crops in between those years, forcing the pioneers to find alternative food sources. They soon learned that the soft and bulby root of the Sego Lily provided decent food.

Years later, this factor—as well as the Sego Lily’s natural beauty—led it to be considered for the official state flower. In 1911, a survey of schoolchildren was performed, and the children made the final decision, making it official.

The flower itself blooms in late summer and consists of three large, white, tulip-like petals. The petals are curved upwards to resemble a cup-like structure. The flowers have a slight lilac hue to them, as well as yellow at the base of the petal.

At the center of the flower, a dark purple can be found. Fully developed, they can be as small as 6 inches or can grow up to 18 inches in height.

Cultivation and Care

The Sego Lily thrives in a moderately wet sandy soil and prefers hotter climates with full sun exposure. The flowers have become popular among those with larger garden beds, since the flowers themselves are quite large and upon blooming can require a relatively small amount of maintenance.

The flower reproduces through bulbs, and once a flower begins to grow it will generally take two years until it begins to flower. Seeds can be used to plant the flower, but often require several growing seasons to begin flowering. The Sego Lily is not a fragrant flower.


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