Ethnobotany. A food for many Amerindian Peoples of California: the bulbs were eaten raw or roasted. It was specified for the Miwok People by Barrett, S. A. and E. W. Gifford in “Miwok Material Culture” (Bulletin of the Public Museum of the City of Milwaukee. 1933). Among the Navajo Peoples, the bulbs were gathered in early spring, peeled and eaten raw – according to the book “Ethnobotany of the Navajo” by Elmore, Francis H. (Sante Fe, NM. School of American Research 1944).
According to the Report of the Commissioner of Agriculture of 1871, «The Utahs call it Sago. The root is the size of a walnut, very palatable and nutritious. The Indian children of California, Utah and Arizona prize it as the children of the Whites to do confectionary. The Mormons, during their first years in Utah, consumed this root extensively.»
Description by the California Native Plant Society. Calochortus luteus, or “Yellow Mariposa Lily”, is a species of the Liliaceae endemic to California. This species is found on coastal prairie, grasslands and some open forest floors primarily in the central Coast Ranges and Sierra foothills. Like other Mariposa Lilies it grows from a bulb, with most of its growth occurring in winter, followed by spring flowering and summer dormancy. It grows to a maximum of 50 cm in height and 20 cm in width. It requires good drainage and must be kept mostly dry in summer. The leaves arising directly from the bulbare strap-like and long. The flower is 3-5 centimeter across and primarily bright yellow, with sparse hair inside and often red-brown streaks or blotches. It is reported to be one of the easiest Mariposa Lilies to grow in the garden.
Reference Books. The gem of a book for all Calochortus aficionados is : “Calochortus Mariposa Lilies and their Relatives”. By Mary E. Gerritsen and Ron Parsons. 2007. Timber Press.