Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Fawn Lily - Erythronium Sp.

Family: Liliaceae - Lily

Local Species;

  1. Erythronium grandiflorum- yellow glacier lily [E-flora][PCBC][TSFTK]
  2. Erythronium montanum - white glacier lily [E-flora][TSFTK]
  3. Erythronium oregonum - white fawn lily [E-flora][PCBC][TSFTK]
  4. Erythronium revolutum - pink fawn lily [E-flora][PCBC][TSFTK]

"Bulb elongate of 1–2 fleshy scales, generally with small, bead-like parts of persistent rhizome. Leaf: 2 (1 in non-flowering plant), basal, 6–35 cm, lanceolate to ovate (solitary basal leaf wider), narrowed to petiole, often mottled, glabrous; margin entire to wavy. Inflorescence: peduncled raceme; flowers 1–10; bracts 0. Flower: showy, generally nodding; perianth parts 6, similar, free, ± lanceolate, ± recurved; stamens 6; style 1, stigma entire to 3-lobed. Fruit: capsule, ovoid to oblong. Seed: ± ovoid, ± angular, brown.
+/- 27 species: especially temperate North America. (Greek: red, from flowers of some) Leaf, flower markings to be noted when fresh, because of fading in pressed specimens." [Jepson]


E.montana; "Moist meadows and open forests in the montane and subalpine zones; rare on Vancouver Island and the adjacent mainland (Mt. Waddington area); S to N OR." [IFBC-E-flora-2]

Status: Native. Blue Listed [E-flora-2]

E. Grandiflorum; "Moist to mesic meadows, edges of snow-melt, along streams and occasionally in open forests in the montane to alpine zones; common throughout BC S of 53degreeN; E to AB and S to MT, UT and N CA." [IFBC-E-flora-1]

Status: Native [E-flora-1]

E.oregonum; "Dry to mesic meadows and open forests in the lowland zone; locally common on SE Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the adjacent mainland; S to S OR." [IFBC-E-flora-1]

Status: Native [E-flora-3]

E. revolutum; "Moist forests and riverbanks in the lowland zone; locally frequent on Vancouver Island, rare on Valdez Island and on mainland at Kingcome Inlet; S to N CA." [IFBC-E-flora-4]

Status: Native [E-flora-4]




Erythronium revolutum

Erythronium revolutum

Erythronium revolutum

Erythronium revolutum

Erythronium oregonum

Erythronium oregonum

Key to Erythronium
1) Lobes of stigma conspicuous, at least 1.5 mm long

Yellow Fawn Lily

Pink Fawn Lily

Avalanche Lily

  • 7) Filaments of stamens distinctly broader (usually more than 0.5 mm) near the base than above
    • 8) Perianth white to cream, usually with yellow and sometimes also with reddish markings at the base; leaves, before and during the time of flowering, with conspicuous brownish markings (widespread lowland species W of the Cascades, Brit. Coi. to S Oreg., possibly Calif.; usually flowering by early April) ........................... E. oregonum [????]

Oregon Fawn Lily

"In plants of E. oregonum on S Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands, Brit. Col., and San Juan Islands, Wash., the perianth is usually almost completely pure white except for rather prominent reddish markings at the base." [????]

Ecological Indicator

Species Mentioned; Erythronium species - Dogs Tooth Violet [Tozer UWP]


Edible Uses


Medicinal Uses

Poultice: The roots have been used as a poultice for skin diseases. [Tozer UWP] E. oregonum; The crushed corm is used as a poultice for boils[207, 257]. [PFAF]

Medicinal Use of non-local Erythronium Sp

American Adder's Tongue - Erythronium americanum


E.grandiflorum;E.montanum,E.oregonum,E.revolutum; "Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a shady position in a cold frame. Water lightly in summer, it should germinate in autumn or winter[164, 200]. Stored seed requires a period of cold stratification[164]. Sow as early in spring as possible in a cold frame. Sow the seed thinly so that it will not be necessary to prick them out for their first year of growth. Give an occasional liquid feed to the seedlings to make sure that they do not become nutrient deficient. When the plants are dormant, pot up the small bulbs putting 2 - 3 bulbs in each pot. Grow them on in a shady position in the greenhouse for another 2 3 years and then plant them out into their permanent positions when they are dormant in late summer. Division of the bulbs in the summer as the leaves die down[1]. Larger bulbs can be replanted immediately into their permanent positions, but it is best to pot up smaller bulbs and grow them on in a shady position in a greenhouse for a year before planting them out when dormant in late summer."[PFAF]



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