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Clintonia umbellulata

speckled clintonia add to wishlist

Plant types and subtypes: Perennials, Bulbs, Ground Covers

Light Requirements: part-shade, shade

Water Use: medium

Soil Moisture: moist

Soil Description: acid, rich, loam

Height: 6"-18"

Bloom Time: May, June

Bloom Color: white

Leaf Color: green

Hardiness Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7

Additional Tags: berries, colonizing, deer resistant, fragrant flowers, naturalizing, ornamental foliage, shade garden plant, woodland plant

Flowers of Clintonia umbellulata (speckled clintonia)
  • Flowers of Clintonia umbellulata (speckled clintonia)
  • Flowers of Clintonia umbellulata (speckled clintonia)
  • Flowers of Clintonia umbellulata (speckled clintonia)

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Description

Clintonia umbellulata

Also known as:

speckled clintonia

,

speckled woodlily

,

speckled wood lily

,

white bluebead lily

,

blackbead lily

,

white clintonia

Scientific Synonyms:

Clintonia alleghaniensis, Xeniatrum umbellulatum

Description

Clintonia umbellulata is a low-growing woodland species native to the rich, deciduous forests of the Appalachian range. The basal foliage consists of broad, glossy leaves reminiscent of Convallaria spp (lily of the valley) and some orchids such as Galearis spectabilis (showy orchid) and Cypripedium spp (slipper orchids). Around mid-spring, dense globular umbels of fragrant white flowers, with petals often speckled with green or purple, rise on stems a foot or more above the foliage. These give way to attractive of clusters of berries that shift from emerald-blue to black as they mature.

Cultivation

Speckled clintonia is a trouble-free plant. It spreads primarily via shallow rhizomes, but does so slowly and is far from aggressive. Given a good location, it can form dense colonies in due time. It prefers areas with open shade, dappled light, or early-morning sun. The soil should be moist, and rich in organic material. If you appreciate the the design element that lily of the valley foliage provides but are troubled by its aggressive nature, you should consider growing Clintonia umbellulata. In fact, this rarely-sold species is worthy of more attention and broader distribution. For remarkable textural contrast, try combining it with Adiantum pedatum. This is a cold-hardy species: zones 4-7. It can be cultivated in zone 8 if placed in a cool spot that remains consistently moist during the summer months.

Propagation

Easy to propagate from seed. Ripe seeds should be planted immediately. Rhizomes may be separated in spring or fall.

Additional Notes

The genus, Clintonia, was first described in 1818 and was named to honor DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828). He was a politician and naturalist who served as US senator, mayor of New York city, governor of New York, and presided over the construction of the Erie canal. He believed that infrastructure could transform American life and drive economic growth. A politician/naturalist; we sure wish that combination existed to this day. The specific epithet, umbellulata, is derived from the Latin word umbella which is the diminutive form of umbra (shade). In other words, it describes a small umbrella and is a reference to the disposition of the species' inflorescence known botanically as an umbel.

Native Range & Classification

Recorded County Distribution: USDA data

Native Range:
GA, KY, MD, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, VA, WV

USDA Endangered Status:

  • Exploitably Vulnerable: NY
  • Threatened: OH

Classification

Kingdom Plantae Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta Flowering plants
Class Liliopsida Monocotyledons
Subclass Liliidae
Order Liliales
Family Liliaceae Lily family
Genus Clintonia bluebead
Species Clintonia umbellulata speckled clintonia