Herb: Sego Lily

Latin name: Calochortus nuttallii

Synonyms: Calochortus luteus

Family: Calochortaceae

Edible parts of Sego Lily:

Bulb - raw or cooked. Remove the outer husk. Excellent raw, the flavour is greatly improved by slow cooking. The bulbs are said to have a crisp nut-like texture and a pleasant flavour when cooked. The bulbs can also be dried and ground into a powder which can be used with cereal flours when making bread. Leaves - cooked as a potherb. It is hard to obtain a sufficient quantity and this use of the leaves will weaken the plants so is not to be recommended. Seed - ground into a powder. Flowers and flower buds - raw. A tasty addition to the salad bowl.

Description of the plant:


15 cm
(6 inches)


Habitat of the herb:

Dry soils with grass and scrub, 1500 - 2800 metres.

Propagation of Sego Lily:

Seed - sow as soon as ripe or early spring in a cold frame in a very sharply draining medium. Stratification may be helpful. Germination usually takes place within 1 - 6 months at 15C. Leave the seedlings undisturbed for their first two years growth, but give them an occasional liquid feed to ensure they do not become nutrient deficient. It is quite difficult to get the seedlings through their first period of dormancy since it is all too easy either to dry them out completely or keep them too moist when they will rot. After their second year of growth, pot up the dormant bulbs in late summer and grow them on for at least another 2 years in the greenhouse before trying them outside. Seedlings take about 5 - 7 years to come into flower. Division of the bulbs as soon as the foliage dies down. One report says that the bulbs must be planted into their permanent positions immediately, whilst another says that they can be stored overwinter and replanted in the spring. Stem bulbils, harvested from the stems after flowering. They can be stored cool and dry then planted in pots in the cold frame in the spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Dry soils with grass and scrub, 1500 - 2800 metres.

Medicinal use of Sego Lily:

None known

Known hazards of Calochortus nuttallii:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.