In the hot climate of Utah known for its red dirt and great hiking and State Parks, there is no wonder that they have the Sego Lily as the Utah State Flower. The Sego Lily, also known as the Mariposa Lily, has two botanical names, Calochortus Gunnisonii or Calochortus Nuttalli. According to the Flower Expert, Online Flowers Encyclopedia, the “Sego flowering plants grow in dry areas, in open pine forests and on hillsides between 5000 - 8000 feet in altitude.” There couldn’t be a better place for the Sego Lily to grow than Utah. This desert flower is significant to the State of Utah for many reasons. To understand these reasons you must know more about the Sego Lily.
The Utah State Flower can bloom in many different colors but most common is white. They resemble tulips and grow to be about six to eight inches high. The leaves can be as long as four inches long and green in color. The Sego Lily stem looks as though it is a thin blade of grass, yet with a bluish green tint in color. Just like tulips, the Sego Lily has an underground bulb. It has three petals and seed like pod that sit in the middle of the bloom. Between May and July is when the Sego Lily blooms. Now the special feature about the Sego Lily is that this flower is edible. The seeds of the Sego Lily taste like baby peas. You can cook them or eat them raw and they will still taste the same. This beautiful flower can save you when you are lost and hungry, which isn’t too far from what the first settlers did in Utah.
On the Utah State website it explains from a letter written by Kate C. Snow, the President of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, that during the years of 1840 and 1851, that families in Utah, lived off the Sego Lily. During that eleven year period, the State of Utah was overrun with a plague of crickets. These crickets devoured the crops and other plants, leaving the Pioneers without food. They began to rely on the Sego Lily for a source of food. They ate the bulb and seeds, learning to recognize the flower and dig them up. Although the Sego Lily is a beautiful flower, the Pioneers had a deep feeling for the flower as it saved their lives in a time of need. It is for this reason that on March 18th of 1911 that the Sego Lily became the Utah State Flower.
Another deciding factor for the Utah State Flower was that they took a vote of the state’s school children to find their preference for a state flower. As it obviously turned out the Sego Lily was their choice. Unlike many state flowers, Utah State Flower has real power and meaning to those living in Utah. Not only does it represent a beautiful heritage, but a desert flower that won the hearts of the inhabitants of Utah.