Erythronium – Fawn Lily

Nodding yellow, pink or white flowers over marbled foliage in early spring.


This is a hardy, spring flowering bulb growing to 30cm, and working as ground-cover once established. There are a number of species and hybrids available, with the best marbled leaf markings on E. revolutum and its hybrds, such as the pink plant pictured right, above. The yellow flowered plant above is probably E. citrinum [my attribution].


Most Erythroniums come from the west coast of North America; though the bulb and leaves of E. japonicum from Japan and Korea have been used for food, and the Dog’s Tooth Violet (E. dens-canis) comes form a wide swathe of southern Europe. They are all woodland plants, preferring moist, humus-rich soil.

Soil / Aspect:

Erythroniums are tolerant of a wide range of soil types, but do require shade and soil that does not dry out during the summer. The picture above actually comes from the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, where they are grown in the cleared area under a Pin Oak.


Erythroniums only bulk up slowly, so they are best left undisturbed. Once the flowers have faded and summer has arrived, you may need to water the area to keep the soil moist. Erythronium do suffer from aphids – yes, even in August when they flower. However this is easily controlled with a single spray of Conqueror oil.