Shy early-season blooms, edible bulbs!
In early spring, this member of the Lily family lets a few bell-shaped blooms dangle from the top of its stem. These purple-and-yellow checkered flowers don't appear every year, as the plant occasionally chooses just to produce a small leaf instead. These ephemeral flowers are enchanting, and some of our favorites to watch. In late spring the flower petals fall to the ground, and are replaced by attractive hexagonal seed heads.
Also known as rice root (a name also applied Fritillaria Camschatcensis), Checker Lily grows from a bulb that looks like a bunch of rice grains pressed together. These bulbs are edible and high in starch.
Once common up and down the Pacific coast, Checker Lily is now somewhat rare. It inhabits prairies, meadows, open woodlands, pine scrublands, and lucky people's gardens.
Photo credit: Franco Folini from San Francisco, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons