Clintonia is a genus of flowering plants first described as a genus in 1818.[3][4] It is distributed across North America and eastern Asia[2] where it is found as an understory plant in woodlands. It was named after De Witt Clinton, an 18th-century botanist and U.S. politician.[5]

Clintonia borealis, Minnesota.jpg
Clintonia borealis
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Liliales
Family: Liliaceae
Subfamily: Lilioideae
Tribe: Medeoleae
Genus: Clintonia
Raf. 1818 not Douglas ex Lindl. 1829 (syn of Downingia in Campanulaceae)[1]
  • Hylocharis Regel & Tiling
  • Xeniatrum Salisb.


Clintonia species are herbaceous perennials growing from rhizomatous underground stems with thin, fibrous roots. They grow from 1.5 to 8 dm tall. They have 2 to 6 basal leaves arising from the rhizome crown, the basal leaves are sessile and sheathing, and the cauline leaves have a stalk. The blade of each leaf has a prominent central vein and entire margins, and the bottom ends are obovate to oblanceolate in shape. The leaf apex is acute to abruptly short-acuminate, often mucronate (ending abruptly in a short sharp point). The inflorescences are terminal, and the flowers are arranged into short racemes or umbel-like clusters, with 1 to 45 flowers. The flowers have 6 tepals with nectaries present. The stamens are inserted at the base of the perianth, and the anthers are oblong-obovate to oblong-linear shaped. The rounded to cylinder shaped ovary is superior with two chambers (sometime three). Each chamber produces 2 to 10 ovules. The smooth fruits are berry-like, round to egg-shaped, metallic blue to black in color. Four to thirty seeds are produced in each fruit and the seeds are shiny brown, round and the ends are angled with 2 or 3 faces.[6][7]


Accepted species[2][8]:


Clintonia species are cultivated as garden subjects in shade gardens, grown for the glossy foliage, small lily-like flowers, and blue fruits, and their ability to live in heavy shade. They grow best in cool, organic-rich, acid soils that retain moisture and when grown well form dense slowly spreading clumps.[9]


  1. ^ The Plant List, Clintonia elegans Douglas ex Lindl.
  2. ^ a b c Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  3. ^ Rafinesque, Constantine Samuel. 1818. American monthly magazine and critical review 2: 266
  4. ^ Tropicos, Clintonia Raf.
  5. ^ Umberto Quattrocchi (3 May 2012). CRC World Dictionary of Medicinal and Poisonous Plants: Common Names, Scientific Names, Eponyms, Synonyms, and Etymology (5 Volume Set). CRC Press. pp. 1024–. ISBN 978-1-4200-8044-5.
  6. ^ Flora of North America, Clintonia Rafinesque
  7. ^ Flora of China Vol. 24 Page 150 七筋菇属 qi jin gu shu Clintonia Rafinesque, Amer. Monthly Mag. & Crit. Rev. 2: 266. 1818.
  8. ^ Biota of North America Program 2013 county distribution maps
  9. ^ William Cullina (2000). The New England Wild Flower Society Guide to Growing and Propagating Wildflowers of the United States and Canada. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 78–. ISBN 0-395-96609-4.

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