The sego lily, (Calochortus nuttallii,) was made the official state flower of Utah on March 18, 1911, when Senate Bill 225 was signed into law by Gov. William Spry (Utah Code 63-13-6).
The bill was introduced by William N. Williams, according to Heart Throbs of the West (2:226), after a census was taken of the state's schoolchildren as to their preference for a state flower. The Sego Lily, Calochortus nuttallii, is a bulbous perennial which is endemic to the Western United States.
The sego lily grows six to eight inches high on open grass and sage rangelands in the Great Basin during the summer months. This member of the mariposa family typifies the lilies, with sepals, petals and stamens in the combinations of three with ivory-colored petals which may be tinted from yellow to pink. A horizontal bar of darker color crosses the base of each petal within the flower cup.
The flower is important to Utah not only for its beauty but because the bulbs were eaten by the early Mormon settlers during their first winter in the valley when food was scarce. The bulb, which is walnut-sized, was also eaten by the Indians before the Mormon settlers turned to it for sustenance and serves today as food for rodents and other animals.
Life Span: Perennial
Growth Characteristics: A monocot with a single stem and having a single, large, terminal flower. This plant is one of the most conspicuous and beautiful early-blooming flowers of the semidesert. It dries up shortly after blossoming.
Flowers/Inflorescence: Goblet shaped, satin-like flowers. The flower is white with cherry red and yellow markings at the base (glands). The flowers can be up to 3 inches across.
Fruits/Seeds: Fruit is a capsule, which splits open along partitions, with numerous flattened seeds inside.
Leaves: Sego lilies have a few basal grass-like leaves, and leafy stems. It can be distinguished from death camas (prior to flowering) by the rounded trough-like cross section of their U-shaped leaves, as opposed to the sharply V-shaped leaf of deathcamas.
The law designating the sego lily as the official Utah state flower is found in the Utah Statutes, Title 63, Chapter 13, Section 63-13-5.5.
TITLE 63. State Affairs in General.
CHAPTER 13. Miscellaneous Provisions.
SECTION 63-13-5.5. State Symbols.
63-13-5.5. State symbols.
(1) Utah's state animal is the elk.
(2) Utah's state bird is the sea gull.
(3) Utah's state centennial astronomical symbol is the Beehive Cluster located in the constellation of Cancer the Crab.
(4) Utah's state centennial star is Dubhe, one of the seven bright stars composing the Big Dipper in the constellation Ursa Major.
(5) Utah's state centennial tartan, which honors the first Scots known to have been in Utah and those Utahns of Scottish heritage, shall have a pattern or repeating-half-sett of white-2, blue-6, red-6, blue-4, red-6, green-18, red-6, and white-4 to represent the tartan worn anciently by the Logan and Skene clans, with the addition of a white stripe.
(6) Utah's state cooking pot is the dutch oven.
(7) Utah's state emblem is the beehive.
(8) Utah's state fish is the Bonneville cutthroat trout.
(9) Utah's state flower is the sego lily.
(10) Utah's state folk dance is the square dance, the folk dance that is called, cued, or prompted to the dancers and includes squares, rounds, clogging, contra, line, and heritage dances.
(11) Utah's state fossil is the Allosaurus.
(12) Utah's state fruit is the cherry.
(13) Utah's state vegetable is the Spanish sweet onion.
(14) Utah's historic state vegetable is the sugar beet.
(15) Utah's state gem is topaz, as is prominently found in the Thomas Mountain Range in Juab County, Utah.
(16) Utah's state grass is Indian rice grass.
(17) Utah's state hymn is "Utah We Love Thee" by Evan Stephens.
(18) Utah's state insect is the honeybee.
(19) Utah's state mineral is copper.
(20) Utah's state motto is "Industry."
(21) Utah's state railroad museum is Ogden Union Station.
(22) Utah's state rock is coal.
(23) Utah's state song is "Utah This is the Place" by Sam and Gary Francis.
(24) Utah's state tree is the blue spruce.
Taxonomic Hierarchy: Sego Lily
Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Liliopsida - Monocotyledons
Subclass: Liliidae -
Order: Liliales -
Family: Liliaceae - Lily family
Genus: Calochortus Pursh - mariposa lily
Species: Calochortus nuttallii Torr. & Gray - sego lily
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