With many spring blooming California Natives going summer dormant, I'm delighted to welcome the blossoms of Chlorogalum pomeridianum (Soap lily) with its fragrant white blossoms. And for my wildlife garden in the back, it really is a perfect plant. But I'm not sure I'd plant it in the front, because here is the whole plant.
What do you see?
- A very tall plant (over 6 feet), that leans unless in full sun.
- A few leaves, a lot of stem, and blossoms that open (and are fragrant) only late in the day and at night.
- Blossoms that, while numerous, are only about an inch across.
And then again, here's what the venerable Las Pilitas site has to say:
"Soap Lily has long, strap-like, wavy leaves that lie along the ground, and a loose spike of small white flowers up to 2 feet high, and flowers from around May-August. Soap Lily, Chlorogalum pomeridianum, ranges from southern Oregon to San Diego, California, grows in full sun, and is drought tolerant within its range. Chlorogalum pomeridianum survives the long rain-free season by means of underground bulbs, which are filled with food by the growing leaves during the winter and spring seasons. If you are starving, the bulb may eaten only when roasted (soapy onion), the raw bulb being utilized as soap. Soap Lily, or Amole, goes dormant in summer and fall. We can sell this only in spring and early summer. Soap Lily makes a unique addition to a California native garden (and having emergency food in the ground doesn't hurt either)."
There you have it. Let's hear it for emergency food and the fragile beauty that shines in the summer night.