Wild Guide: Celestial Lily

By MDC | May 1, 2022
From Missouri Conservationist: May 2022
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Celestial Lily

Nemastylis geminiflora

Scattered in the unglaciated plains, eastern portions of the Ozarks, and the Ozark border

A perennial herb with grasslike leaves growing from a bulb, celestial lilies bloom from April to May. The flowers appear as sky blue or blue-violet six-pointed stars that measure 2½ inches across. Each flower blooms for only one day, in the morning, and then closes in the afternoon. Celestial lilies occur in glades, prairies, and rocky slopes on calcareous substrates.

Did You Know?

This plant is not technically a lily — it is in the iris family. How can you tell the difference? In irises, the flower’s ovary is positioned below where the petals and sepals seem to attach, and not above them. Also, irises have three stamens.

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Photo of a celestial lily, or prairie pleatleaf iris, in bloom.

This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Larry Archer
Photography Editor - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Staff Writer – Dianne Van Dien
Designer - Shawn Carey
Designer - Marci Porter
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Circulation - Laura Scheuler