Clintonia borealis (Aiton) Raf.
Family: Liliaceae
Yellow Bluebead-Lily
Clintonia borealis image
Plants 2-5 dm; rhizomes thin, spreading. Cauline leaves 2-4; blade dark glossy green adaxially, oblong to elliptic obovate, 15-30 × 5-10 cm. Inflorescences in short, terminal racemes, 3-8(-10)-flowered; bracts 1(-3), narrowly foliaceous. Flowers nodding; tepals yellow to yellowish green, narrowly oblong, 12-16 × 3.5-4.5 mm; filaments 12-17.5 mm; anthers oblong, 2-3.5 mm. Berries ultramarine blue, ovoid, 8-16-seeded, 8-12 mm. Seeds 3-5 mm. 2n = 28, 32. Flowering early May--early Jul. Rich coniferous, mixed, or deciduous woods; 0--1600 m; St. Pierre and Miquélon; Man., N.B., Nfld. and Labr., N.S., Ont., P.E.I., Que.; Conn., Ga., Ill., Ind., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Pa., R.I., Tenn., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis. Throughout the range of Clintonia borealis a stabilized, 2n = 32 cytotype has been reported (F. H. Utech and L. B. Thien 1973; B. M. Kapoor 1973).

Perennial herb with thin, spreading rhizomes flowering stem 15 - 40 cm tall Leaves: two to five, basal, dark glossy green, 15 - 30 cm long, 5 - 10 cm wide, elliptic to oblong with an abruptly pointed tip and a marginal fringe of hairs. Inflorescence: a short, terminal cluster (raceme) of three to eight flowers raised on an upright stalk. Flowers: on 1 - 3 cm long stalks, nodding, greenish yellow to yellow, 12 - 16 mm long, with six distinct, narrowly oblong tepals. Stamens six. Fruit: a blue to white, 8 mm thick berry on an upright stalk.

Similar species: Clintonia borealis is a distinctive plant in the Chicago Region.

Flowering: May

Habitat and ecology: Very rare in the Chicago Region. Found in moist and boggy woodlands.

Occurence in the Chicago region: native

Etymology: Clintonia is named after De Witt Clinton (1769-1828), a naturalist and governor of New York. Borealis means "from the North."

Author: The Morton Arboretum

Lvs 2-5, dark glossy green, oblong to elliptic or obovate, eventually to 3 dm, abruptly acuminate, ciliolate; scape 1.5-4 dm, usually hairy above at least when young; pedicels 1-3 cm, erect in fr, softly hairy; fls 3-8, nodding, the tep greenish-yellow, narrowly oblong, 15-18 mm; ovules 10 or more per locule; fr blue (white), 8 mm thick; 2n=28, 32. Rich moist woods and wooded bogs; Lab. and Nf. to Man. and Minn., s. to N.J., Pa., and n. Ind., and in the mts. to N.C. and Tenn. May, June.

Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.

©The New York Botanical Garden. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
This is a very rare plant in Indiana and I have specimens from only three places. I have a specimen collected by Umbach on May 14, 1898, in full flower in a swamp near Miller, Lake County. I have another specimen discovered by M. W. Lyon, Jr., and Mrs. Lyon in a tamarack bog near Dune Park, Porter County. In 1935 I collected a specimen discovered by R. M. Tryon, Jr., in a decadent bog in the eastern part of Porter County. This species will probably reach extinction in Indiana before long.