Here’s a beautiful mountain wildflower that I’ve found growing in sheltered places beneath the rocky slopes of Bald Knob on Salt Pond Mountain. The leaves of Yellow Clintonia (or Blue-bead Lily) somewhat resemble robust orchid leaves; they are 6 to 10-inches long, elliptical, and shiny. Each individual plant bears two to five of these large basal leaves. In contrast to most orchids, this plant tends to grow in large, spreading colonies, like the group that you see below.
The nodding flowers of Yellow Clintonia (Clintonia borealis) are, of course, yellow. Later in the season, these flowers give way to dark blue, bead-like fruit. It is this fruit that gives the plant its second common name, Blue-bead Lily.
Bloom time for Yellow Clintonia is sometime between mid-May and June, depending on elevation, aspect, and yearly weather conditions. Be aware that there is another Clintonia in our area that has white flowers instead of yellow–it is called the Speckled Wood Lily (Clintonia umbellulata) and the bead-like fruit of that species is black. Also, sharing the same locales and general “bloom times” is the smaller, white-flowering Canada Mayflower.