Bluebead Lily

blue-bead lily

Bluebead Lily (Clintonia borealis)

Background:

When people talk of wildflowers, they generally mention lovely colours, fragrances, or leaves. The blue-bead lily is a woodland wildflower deserving of kindly words, but not just for its striking appearance. It is important habitat for one of our migratory woodland warblers.

 

Identification:

The broad, fleshly leaves at the base give way to a single stem topped with pale yellow flowers in the spring, when it is often referred to as the corn lily. In the fall, those flowers turn into beautiful, though toxic, bright blue berries. These lilies often grow in dense mats in the forest, creating a wonderful natural landscape.

Wildlife values:

As if that wasn’t enough, they also provide excellent habitat for the ovenbird, a migratory warbler that nests on the ground. The nest has a roof on it and an opening in front, reminiscent of a Dutch oven. Like all ground nesting birds, these warblers are easy prey for a variety of nest-robbers, including cats, foxes, raccoons and blue jays. To counter these threats, the ovenbird often makes its nest in a dense patch of blue-bead lily – the fleshy, overhanging leaves hide and protect the nest.

Conservation:

like trilliums, the blue-bead lily can easily be grown from seed, and the young plants then can be placed in woodlands that have few or no seed sources. They are widely adaptable, preferring mixed woodlands with dappled light, but they can also grow thrive in older conifer stands. In areas with blue-bead lilies, it is important to keep to the trails (or if there are no trails, skirt the patches) to avoid walking on the plants. This helps conserve both the plants themselves and any nesting ovenbirds.