White Fawn Lilies at Pipers Lagoon Park

The white fawn lilies (Erythronium oregonum) at Pipers Lagoon Park in Nanaimo, British Columbia are in full bloom this week. Jocie and I were doing a bit of botanizing last week and were astounded by the display.

White Fawn Lilies (Erythronium oregonum)
White Fawn Lilies (Erythronium oregonum) cover the ground at Pipers Lagoon Park in Nanaimo.

The dense carpets of white nodding heads and mottled leaves underneath the Douglas firs were hard to miss—the challenge was capturing the full extent of the bloom with a photograph. In that, I don’t think that I was too successful. While the flowers made interesting patterns it was very difficult to isolate them from the other plants and debris under the trees with my current selection of lenses. Easier to do with a single flower or small cluster than with a large group.

Trail-side White Fawn Lilies (Erythronium oregonum)
A delightful cluster of White Fawn Lilies (Erythronium oregonum) beside the trail.

The dry mix of Douglas fir, arbutus, and Garry oak ecosystem at Pipers Lagoon makes for good white fawn lily habitat. These flowers prefer dry open forests and meadows and they were plentiful on the more open west side of the island. On the east side their numbers were fewer, possibly due to the thick cover of snowberry bushes.

A Pair of White Fawn Lilies (Erythronium oregonum)
A pair of White Fawn Lilies (Erythronium oregonum) showing the large paired leaves and single nodding white flower.

The individual flowers are easy to identify. Look for groups of single, white nodding flowers (often tinged yellow where it connects to the stem) with upturned tepals. The stamens are bright yellow and at flower level are clearly visible. Look too for the broad, paired basal leaves. These may be mottled with white or brown spots (which suggests the colouration of a fawn).

White Fawn Lily (Erythronium oregonum)
A single White Fawn Lily (Erythronium oregonum), one of many that we saw under the Douglas firs at Pipers Lagoon Park.

We saw a number of other flowers in bloom at Pipers Lagoon—I’ll be posting images of these on my new Tumblr site which will be dedicated primarily to photography and short descriptions. However, it was the fawn lilies that definitely made an impression on our visit. Neither of us has seen a display quite as spectacular as this one. If you live in or near Nanaimo, make the effort to visit this unique ecosystem while the lilies are in bloom. Directions to the park can be found in my previous post Pipers Lagoon Park. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!