Montana Outdoors

April 13, 2010

Yellow Glacier Lily

Bears are rather fond of the bulbs of these plants and if one doesn’t come by, dig up and eat its bulb, the bud in my previous post will in a few days look like the flowers in the following photos.

While walking up a Forest Service road yesterday I came across the bud standing all alone on the hillside above the road. Another mile and a half up the canyon on the point of a small ridge that had a good southern exposure and therefore access to all of the available sun, these were in full early bloom. Later, Glacier Lilies will be very numerous in many areas of the forests of western Montana.

Yellow Glacier Lily

Yellow Glacier Lily

Yellow Glacier Lily

Yellow Glacier Lily

This particular species is native to nine of the far western states, but I see that they have relatives living in nearly all of the rest of the US as well. It seems that giving this plant its common name is a popular pastime and they have a number of common names including Glacier Lily, Yellow Glacier Lily, and Yellow Avalanche Lily; species name, Erythronium grandiflorum. For over sixty years I have heard them locally called “Dogtoothed Violets” which is not the correct name for this species, but is the name for the species Erythronium americanum which is native to the eastern half of the US.


  1. So beautiful and graceful. My imagination takes me to royalty bowing at each other! ;o) Love the composition in the last one especially!


    Comment by Stacey Dawn — April 13, 2010 @ 2:38 pm

    • I hadn’t thought about it before, but they do show a sense of royal flair, don’t they!


      Comment by montucky — April 13, 2010 @ 6:36 pm

  2. Nice color contrast between the leaves and petals. Very soothing.


    Comment by DaveABirding — April 13, 2010 @ 3:04 pm

    • There are usually enough of them in a spot that they do add color to the forest and the yellow can be seen at a distance.


      Comment by montucky — April 13, 2010 @ 6:37 pm

  3. Yes, I noticed that when the other day when one of my idaho blogger friends posted dog toothed violets. They are beautiful.

    I followed a bumblebee today, and found mayflowers. They will be posted tomorrow.


    Comment by sandy — April 13, 2010 @ 3:49 pm

    • I will welcome the return of bumbles! I’ve heard of mayflowers but they don’t row here: I’ll watch for your photos.


      Comment by montucky — April 13, 2010 @ 6:41 pm

  4. I am trying to figure out how big these are–it is so hard to tell from the pictures. I was thinking they look a lot like trout lilies (also known as Dog tooth violets), but the yellow glacier lilies have almost a tropical air. I just googled trout lily (Erythronium americanum) and see that they are related.


    Comment by kateri — April 13, 2010 @ 7:45 pm

    • The blossom is about an inch across on average, some a little larger. They stand up to 4 – 5 inches tall and sometimes grow in clusters.


      Comment by montucky — April 13, 2010 @ 7:51 pm

  5. These photos capture the beauty and grace of the Glacier Lily. Makes me long for Glacier and Logan Pass!


    Comment by Maureen — April 13, 2010 @ 8:40 pm

    • I’m going to try a couple of hikes in glacier next summer. They’re getting a foot of new snow last night and today though. I read the road won’t be fully open until June despite the light snow year.


      Comment by montucky — April 13, 2010 @ 9:33 pm

  6. Love the white/yellow combination. What a lovely lily.


    Comment by Bo Mackison — April 14, 2010 @ 12:06 pm

    • I’ve always thought they were pretty too, and they’re big enough and plentiful enough to make a presence.


      Comment by montucky — April 14, 2010 @ 6:41 pm

  7. Perhaps a “don’t feed the bears” sign will keep them away.


    Comment by knightofswords — April 14, 2010 @ 2:43 pm

  8. Those are some perfectly focused photographs. Just awesome!


    Comment by kcjewel — April 14, 2010 @ 8:29 pm

  9. What a gorgeous lily and it is wild! Amazing. I haven’t heard of the Yellow Glacier Lily and must be a tough flower. I love the first shot of the lily as it looks like it is in motion to fly. šŸ™‚


    Comment by Anna Surface — April 15, 2010 @ 11:11 am

    • This species is native only to the western states: (CA, CO, ID, MT, NM, OR, UT, WA, WY). When I was a kid, their blooming was a big event, or at least I thought of it that way.


      Comment by montucky — April 15, 2010 @ 9:34 pm

  10. Glacier lilies, never heard of them, they sound exotic.


    Comment by Candace — April 15, 2010 @ 7:23 pm

    • They are quite common and plentiful in this region. They are also large enough to be easily seen and I really like their characteristic shape. The first photo is typical.


      Comment by montucky — April 15, 2010 @ 9:36 pm

  11. What a pity that we do not have this flower. It is so beautiful. Your photo are great and I love them.


    Comment by sartenada — April 18, 2010 @ 10:56 pm

    • It is one of the more prolific of the wildflowers, growing in large numbers. One of the really nice things about living where I do is that most of the flowers begin blooming about this time of year in the valleys. As the summer heats up they stop blooming, but begin at higher altitudes. the altitude at my house is about 2,400 feet, and these blossoms will be gone here in a few weeks. In the mountains at 6,000 or 7,000 feet, many will still be blooming in September.


      Comment by montucky — April 19, 2010 @ 8:22 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: