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Clintonia borealis (Ait.) Raf.
Bluebead, Yellow bluebead-lily, Clintonia, Blue-bead lily
USDA Symbol: clbo3
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
A basal clump of three to five thick, shiny, oval leaves surrounds an 8-15 in. leafless stem topped by a cluster of nodding, pale yellow-green flowers. The stalk rises from a basal set of shiny, bright green, oblong leaves and has at its summit 3-6 yellowish-green, drooping, bell-like flowers. Bright blue, spherical berries follow the flowers.
The cluster of beautiful fruits are noted for their extraordinary true-blue color. The plant was named in honor of the former governor of New York, DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828). A less common species, White Clintonia (C. umbellulata), has numerous, erect, white flowers and black berries.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Herb Leaf Complexity: Simple Leaf:
Blue Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: May , Jun
CT , GA , IL , IN , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV Canada: NB
, PE Native Distribution:
Lab. to Man., s. to New England, mountains of GA & TN, MI & MN Native Habitat:
Damp, coniferous woods & bogs; sometimes deciduous
and birch-fir woods; sub-alpine meadows USDA Native Status: L48(N), CAN(N),
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
Medium Light Requirement:
Shade Soil Moisture:
Moist Soil pH:
Acidic (pH<6.8) CaCO3 Tolerance:
Medium Soil Description:
Deep, damp, cold leafmold. Conditions Comments:
Difficult to grow where summer temperatures are substantially above 75 degrees. In appropriate environments, clintonia provides an attractive ground cover. Benefits from a heavy einter mulch of mixed pine and deciduous
leaves. Watch for slugs and snails.
BenefitUse Wildlife: Chipmunks and birds relish the berries.
Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: Berries suspect, caution. No known cases. Toxic Principle: Unknown; suspected due to relation to toxic plants.
The plant was named in honor of the former governor of New York, DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828). (Niering)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
PropagationDescription: Usually propagated by dividing underground runners in fall or early spring, but may also be grown from seed planted immediately after ripening. Plant divisions 1 in. deep. Be careful when handling the rhizomes and roots, because they are brittle. Pulp-
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: Must be stratified; accomplished naturally by planting outdoors.
Commercially Avail: yes
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Record Modified: 2012-07-03
Research By: TWC Staff