May 062009

 May in the Gila brings a profusion of flowers that’s so constant it’s hard to keep up with. In just a couple of weeks, the Wild Roses, Elderflowers, Monkeyflowers, Motherwort and Beebalm will all be exploding from the riverbanks, arroyos and woods. For now, the Chokecherries and Wild Honeysuckle are just getting started. But this evening I went in search of a rarer bloom, the delicate Mariposa Lily that thrives only on well-drained but North facing hills. Among red and cream colored rocks, American Pennyroyal and Fleabane thrive while Skullcap unfurls from moist rock crevices in the shade.


Very near sunset, I climbed up into the hills across the river from our cabin. These are the same hills where the ancient kiva site rests and where coyotes frequently sing from. The last light slanted through the Ponderosa Pines as I walked and the air was filled with the scent of vanilla tinged pine resin and rich Cottonwood.


At the top of the hill, among the Agave and Ragwort, the Mariposa Lilies wave among dry grasses. From a distance, they often appear as only a patch of white among the gold and green of Spring flora. Up close though, their brilliantly colored centers are as hypnotic as a mandala, and as intricate as butterfly wings.



Every bloom is different, the angle and twist of petal and sepal unique every time. And in the evening wind, they dance.



Growing just above the Mariposa Lilies, the Agave are sending up their flower shoots. Amazingly, their leave and stalks are just as beautiful as their blooms.


Their leaves are ebony tipped and sharp enough to puncture soft skin and their incredible array of colors stand out starkly against the golds and browns of the grasses still dormant all around the Agave.



On the way back down the hill towards home, the sun shone through the shedding leaves of the Evergreen Oaks. Soon, new green leaves will be adorning them but for now, they’re covered in a chaos of gold, green, tan and even shades of blue. Their rough bark and gnarled stature are very much like something out of a Rackham fairy tale illustration, and add yet another level of enchantment to the magic of the canyon.


All photographs (c)2009 Kiva Rose

  5 Responses to “Wandering the Hills: Mariposa Lily in the Last Rays of Light”

  1. How beautiful!

  2. Dear Kiva Rose,

    What beautiful pictures! I love mariposa lilies; they look so fairy-like.



  3. hey Kiva!

    amazing that something so sharp, pointy, lethal looking gives us that sweeeeet stuff!

    what part of agave is used for that anyway?? do you harvest it?

    love and green blessings to you, herbal sister!
    wishing you a Merry May,

    Robin Rose ~*~

  4. Robin! Yay, I’m so glad to hear from you!!

    About Agave syrup, here’s a breakdown of the process

    ” …Agave plants are crushed, and the sap collected into tanks. The sap is then heated to about 140°F for about 36 hours not only to concentrate the liquid into a syrup, but to develop the sweetness. The main carbohydrates in the agave sap are complex forms of fructose called fructosans, one of which is inulin, a straight-chain fructose polymer about ten eight to 10 fructose sugar units long. In this state, the sap is not very sweet.

    When the agave sap is heated, the complex fructosans are hydrolyzed, or broken into their constituent fructose units. The fructose-rich solution is then filtered to obtain the desired products that range from dark syrup with a characteristic vanilla aroma, to a light amber liquid with more neutral characteristics.” Excerpt from:

    My problem with agave syrup, besides the fact that it tends to be very expensive and that it’s usually highly processed, is that the body isn’t really designed to take in concentrated fructose…. we’re really much better off with glucose if we’re going to use a sweetener, especially the liver and pancreas.

    Lots of love and blessings to you too!

  5. […] Wandering the Hills: Mariposa Lily in the Last Rays of Light […]

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