Yellow Bell

One of our earliest spring wildflowers is the yellow bell (Fritillaris pudica), a member of the lily family. Growing in open areas of the Great Basin, yellow bells are small plants rarely reaching a foot in height. I usually think of them in the 8″ or 9″ range.

The bright yellow nodding flowers occur singly or in pairs on the tips of the stem. The stem, arising from a fleshy scaled bulb, is surrounded by whorls of three linear leaves. The flower is composed of three petals surrounding  six stamens. What a wonderful sight to find a patch of these lemony blossoms before most other wildflowers and grasses have begun to show green.

The bulb of the yellow bell is edible and can be eaten raw, boiled or dried. Having tasted a few raw, I concur that they are quite good – slightly starchy, crisp and bland like many of the other wild bulbs. Yellow bell bulbs eaten raw remind me of water chestnuts, only more starchy. The bulbs are small, about the size of a marble, and it would take a great many to use for any culinary purposes. I feel it is better to not harvest this beautiful spring wildflower except to taste one or two bulbs out of curiosity or under survival conditions. Patches of these bright yellow flowers nodding in the sun on an early spring day are too beautiful to destroy.

These plants were photographed on about 17 acres of our property (Lookout CA) that have been left as a natural area for the last thirty years.

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2 Responses to Yellow Bell

  1. Pingback: Fritillaria pudica | The Nature Niche

  2. Pingback: Scarlet Fritillary | The Nature Niche

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