Lemon lily (Lilium parryi)
Big Bear
San Bernardino County

July 15, 2000

Tucked four miles on a myriad of dirt roads dissecting the mountains south of Big Bear
Lake (San Bernardino Mountains, southern California) hides a discreet meadow where
stream orchids, lemon lilies, ferns, and white flowered bog orchids commingle in an
incredible show of nature's beauty. After my diligent plant buddy, Cindy (keeper of the
Jepson Manual), dutifully gushed stories of discovering this slice of botanical heaven, I was
determined to witness and capture these beauties on film. With Cindy guiding our way through
a maze of backroads, it would take three years of trial forays into the field before our timing
fell on peak bloom. Previous attempts swung between the extremes of too early (yielding
tantalizing, nodding green buds) or too late (missing the bloom altogether). But, a visit to the
site on July 15, 2000 paid off.

False hellebores (Corn lilies) (Veratrum californicum) thrive in this
boggy meadow--perfect habitat for lilies and orchids.

The white flowered bog orchid (Plantanthera leucostachys) likes its feet wet in the saturated soils of the spring.

Stream orchids (Epipactis gigantea) were found blooming just beyond the wettest portion of the meadow.

The understated earthen tones of this stream orchid (Epipactis gigantea) could be easily overlooked by the avid hiker intent on reaching the summit rather than the flora underfoot! Perhaps from the number of photographs, you can tell that this was my first encounter with a stream orchid!

A wider view of the orchid plant

No more than 20 feet away from the stream orchids were a massive population of rare lemon lilies (Lilium parryi). Throughout the elongate meadow were plants taller than my 5'6" height, each supporting 1 to 17 brilliant yellow trumpets. The lilies released a delightfully intense lemon-vanilla fragrance into the air, warmed by the midday sun. Dappled light from the Jeffrey pine canopy made the flowers look like butterflies.

Braken fern (Pteridium aquilinum) intermingled with the lemon lilies. Thick colonies of the fern easily attained robust heights of four feet.


Revised: June 14, 2002

This site ©2002 Ann Dittmer.