White Rushlily

A native perennial, white rushlily (Hastingsia alba) has a limited range. It grows in wet meadows, bogs and rocky seeps with serpentine soils. It can be found in Northern California and Southwestern Oregon between about 1,650 and 7,500 feet. White rushlily is one of the plants that have evolved to survive in the serpentine soils, with their high concentrations of heavy metals, of this geographic area.

A member of the Century Plant Family (Agavaceae), white rushlily  arises from a bulb with a black outer coat. The basal leaves are grass-like and keeled.

The white rushlily inflorescence is a panicle of tightly packed flowers. A panicle is a branched inflorescence in which the flowers mature from the bottom up. Often there are smaller inflorescences branching off on the lower stem. The white or yellowish flowers consist of six tepals (structures identified as neither sepals or petals) arranged in two whorls, curling at the tips and fused at the base. The superior ovary has three chambers, one style and a three-lobed stigma. The six stamens have brown anthers and are longer than the tepals.

The fruits are green, short-stalked capsules that open along longitudinal lines between chambers (loculicidal) to release flat, ovid, black seeds.

Other common names for H alba are reed lily and white bog hastingsia, among others. A synonym is Schoenolirion alba.

The genus name honors Serramus Clinton Hastings (1814 – 1893), the first Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court. White is the meaning in Latin of the species designation.

These white rushlilies were photographed in July along Siskiyou County Road 26 in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest (CA).

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