Flora & Fauna

Blue Balls in the Redwoods

Clintonia andrewsiana bearing blue fruits at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.

Clintonia andrewsiana bearing blue fruits at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.

Redwoods are red,
Red clintonia is now blue,
It’s fall in the forest,
Bearing fruits of a brilliant hue.

The large shiny green leaves of red clintonia, or Andrew’s clintonia, grow in moist sandy soil in the redwood forest. This native lily blooms in the summer, displaying reddish-purple flowers on a tall stalk. Over the summer the fruits develop, and in the fall the ripe fruits look like brilliant blue candy.

Often catching hikers’ eyes, these fruits are by far the bluest thing in the woods. It’s not uncommon for deer to eat the growing fruits before we get to see the beautiful blue, so it always feels special when I do see red clintonia showing its bright blue fruits to the world.

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