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White Clintonia, Clinton’s Lily, Speckled Woodlily - Clintonia umbellulata


Family: Liliaceae - Lily family Genus Common Name: Bluebead Native Status: Native
Clintonia umbellulata - White Clintonia, Clinton’s Lily, Speckled Woodlily. Clintonia is a small genus of only 5 species, 4 of which are native to North America - the other one is Asian. Two of the North American species are western, the other two are more eastern. Clintonia umbellulata is a species primarily of the Appalachian Mountains, found from north Georgia and South Carolina northward to western New York. It is a protected plant in New York and Ohio. The other eastern species is Clintonia borealis, which is found at higher elevations of the Appalachian Mountains in the southern end of its range (also north Georgia and South Carolina) but is much more widespread and at lower elevations in the northern tier of states.

Found in:
GA, KY, MD, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, VA, WV

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Clintonia umbellulata

Distribution of Clintonia umbellulata in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2009. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 19 Feb 2017). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

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Site: Murray County, Ga Date: 2014-May-15Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
Clintonia umbellulata normally has at least 10 and up to 30 or flowers in the inflorescence. Clintonia borealis, the other eastern species, usually has 8 or fewer flowers, but occasionally as many as 10. This photo only shows 9 flowers, but the coloration of the tepals - white, often spotted purplish brown and/or green towards the tips, as here - tells us this is C. umbellulata, not C. borealis which has yellow to yellowish green tepals. The inflorescence of all Clintonia species are on a leafless scape.
Clintonia umbellulata

Site: Murray County, Ga Date: 2014-May-15Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
White Clintonia has three or four glossy green basal leaves which are up to about a foot long. The floral scape can be up to twice as tall.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Clintonia umbellulata

Site: GSMNP, Cocke County, TN Date: 2014-June-28Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The fruit of White Clintonia are glossy berries with 2 to 4 seeds. They will turn black, as one has done on this plant. All other Clintonia species have fruits that will turn a shade of blue, providing the “Bluebead” common name for the genus.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Clintonia umbellulata

References used for identification and information:

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer