PROSARTES - Fairybells

Family: Liliaceae - Lily

"Rhizome slender, creeping to ± erect. Stem: erect, branched, scaly below, leafy above, hairs 0 or generally sharp-branched, generally not glandular, some or all falling in age. Leaf: alternate, sessile to ± clasping, (ob)ovate to elliptic, acute to acuminate, base ± oblique, cordate to acute, main veins >=3, converging. Inflorescence: umbel-like, terminal; flowers 1–7, pendent. Flower: perianth parts 6, in 2 whorls, petal-like, free, white to ± green, bases green, generally convex; stamens 6, free, anthers generally < filaments, generally oblong, generally glabrous; ovary superior, chambers (1)3, style slender, stigma entire or 3-lobed. Fruit: berry, orange to red. Seed: white to pale yellow."
"6 species: temperate North America. (Greek: to append, from pendulous ovules of type sp.) [Mesler et al. 2010 Madroño 52:129–135]" [Jepson]

Local Species;

  1. Prosartes hookeri - Hooker's fairybells [E-flora][TSFTK]
  2. Prosartes smithii - Smith's fairybells [E-flora][TSFTK]
  3. Prosartes trachycarpa - Rough-fruited fairybells [E-flora]


P. hookeri; "Moist to mesic forests in the lowland and montane zones; common in BC south of 55degreeN; E to AB and W MT, ID and NW OR."[IFBC-E-flora]
P. smithii; "Moist forests and streambanks in the lowland zone; rare on S Vancouver Island; S to CA." [IFBC-E-flora]
P.trachycarpa; "Moist to dry forests, forest edges, thickets and clearings in the steppe and montane zones; common in BC east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains and S of 56degreeN; E to MB and S to SD, NM, AZ and OR." [IFBC-E-flora]

(above photos) Prosartes hookeri

Species Mentioned;


Disporum hooken var. oreganum (S. Wats.); Plant considered poisonous. ·[NAEth Moerman]Disporum Sp; The Klallam considered them poisonous [Derig WBOTW]


Most Native Americans did not eat fairybells, though several groups used them for medicine. [Derig WBOTW]

Edible Uses

Other Uses

Medicinal Uses


"Fairybells grow well in moist, woodland gardens and shady borders in USDA zones 6 to 9. The delicate, drooping flowers are not flamboyant, but the handsome leaves fill in around hosta, ferns, and spring' blooming bulbs. The plants spread slowly, forming colonies." [Derig WBOTW]

P. trachycarpum; Best grown in partial shade in a moist peaty or woodland soil[1, 175]. A very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to about -20°c[187]. Plants spread well by means of creeping rhizomes when they are grown in a leafy soil[187]. This species is closely related to D. smithii[233].[PFAF]


  • Disporum hooken var. oreganum (S. Wats.); Berries eaten by wolves. [NAEth Moerman]
  • Disporum smithii (Hook.); Piper; Berries eaten by squirrels. [NAEth Moerman]


    P. trachycarpum; "Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[175]. Use a lime-free compost and keep it moist[175]. Stored seed requires 6 weeks cold stratification and should be sown as early in the year as possible[175]. Germination usually takes place within 3 - 6 months or more at 15°c[175]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in spring[200]." [PFAF]

  • Syn: Disporum [E-flora]


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    Page last modified on Saturday, May 25, 2019 0:45 AM