Clintonia borealis (Bluebead)

Plant Info
Also known as: Yellow Bluebead Lily, Yellow Clintonia, Corn Lily
Genus:Clintonia
Family:Colchicaceae (Autumn-crocus)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade, shade; moist woods, swamps
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:6 to 16 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FAC NCNE: FAC
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 6-petals Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers]  Flowers are in groups of 2 to 6 at the end of a long naked stem that sprouts from the base of the plant. Individual flowers are up to 1 inch long and a typical lily bell shape, 6 tepals (petals) that flare out, 6 long stamens with yellow tips and a long straight style. The color is yellow to yellowish green. The flowers tend to nod down. Each plant has a single stem of flowers.

Leaves: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] There are 2 to 4 leaves around the base of the plant, each up to 8 inches long and 3 inches wide with a pointed tip and tapering at the base. There is a distinct central vein and faint parallel veins. The surface is glossy.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of fruit]  Fruit is a berry about ¼ inch in diameter that ripens to a deep blue color, and is where the common name originates.

Notes:

Bluebead grows in clumps and can form large colonies. A pretty common species, it's hard to avoid coming across it in just about any moist woods, bog or swamp north of the Metro. Formerly in the Liliaceae (Lily) family, Clintonia has been reassigned to the Colchicaceae (Autumn-crocus) family.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Vadnais/Snail Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County, and in Anoka County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Julie - Eastern Clay County
on: 2010-04-26 23:18:04

I found several clumps in the untouched oak woodlands behind my house.

Posted by: Lynn - the Arrowhead Region
on: 2010-05-01 19:25:12

I've found hundreds of clumps of this plant in the woods while camping up the Arrowhead Trail (north of Grand Marais).

Posted by: david - Bloomington
on: 2011-02-09 15:19:06

I have a nice patch of them growing in my shade garden.I love the glossy green leaves and little yellow flowers.

Posted by: Cheryl - St Louis County
on: 2011-06-19 12:03:57

The Yellow Bluebead is in full bloom this week along the Superior Hiking Trail. Very lovely!

Posted by: Jane - Iron (15 miles east of Hibbing)
on: 2011-06-28 16:58:21

I have many (probably thousands) of these, growing in shady, swampy, wooded areas. I am wondering if the blue berries they produce in late summer are poisonous? The berries look a lot like blueberries...really, big, beautiful blue berries. I wondered why none of the forest critters ate the berries, until I tasted one. They are extremely bitter.

Posted by: Steve - Hubbard County
on: 2012-05-15 05:02:13

May 13th just north of Akeley I found one sending up a flower stem.

Posted by: Judy - Pequot Lakes
on: 2012-05-15 17:13:33

I found your site very helpful. We discovered a plant with a yellow flower in a small area of our lake cabin and did not know what it was. I entered a simple description and your site showed me what the wildflower was. It was a Bluebead and your information helped us identify it. Thank you.

Posted by: Jerry - Banning State Park
on: 2012-05-17 08:41:33

Found these growing at several locations along the hiking trails at Banning.

Posted by: Linda - Campground 35 miles N. of Grand Rapids
on: 2012-05-28 16:15:39

Very pretty, dainty flowers. We found them in an area near the lake surrounded by large red pine.

Posted by: carol - Breezy Point MN
on: 2012-06-15 17:10:14

We found this bluebead growing and blooming in a low spot in our yard at the cabin near Breezy Point, MN. This is the first time in the twenty years we have been there. A few years ago we found a ladyslipper growing at the other end of the low spot. It came up for about three years and hasn't come back up since.

Posted by: Beverly - Grand Portage State Park
on: 2013-06-27 11:16:00

Yesterday I saw a big patch of these dainty little flowers nestled under a group of trees at the entrance to Grand Portage State Park near the Canada/USA border,

Posted by: Dorothy - Harris Township, Itasca County
on: 2015-06-11 13:51:23

Found some of these in the deeper but not brushy woodlot last few days.

Posted by: luciearl - Lake Shore, MN
on: 2016-05-29 22:36:55

Found these today in my woods for the first time. There in a shady moist area.

Posted by: Victoria - Barnum
on: 2016-06-03 15:08:35

We have large groups of them this year, out in our woods! They are beautiful!

Posted by: Sarah - Itasca State Park
on: 2016-06-03 19:40:02

Lots of this at Itasca State Park earlier this week.

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