Ithuriel's Spear

(Triteleia laxa)

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Triteleia laxa (Ithuriel's Spear)

Endangered

No

Latin Derivation

Genus: Triteleia - derived from the Greek tri, “three” and teleios, “perfect” the floral parts being in threes.

Species: laxa - growing loosely, probably referring to the flowers.

Common Name

Ithuriel was an angel in Milton’s Paradise Lost who found Satan squatting like a toad, close at the ear of Eve, and transformed him by a touch of his spear to his proper form. The plant as it emerges from the soil in the spring is reminiscent of a spear.

Plant Family

Liliacea, the Lily family.

Family Characteristics

Perennials to trees. Growing from bulb, corm, rhizome, caudex. Stems generally underground. Leaves generally basal linear, alternate. Flowers generally bisexual, radial with 6 petals, 6 stamens and a superior ovary.

Description

Grows from bulb or corm. Leaves 20 - 40 cm long, 4 - 25 cm wide. Inflorescence 10 - 70 cm high. Flowers are blue, blue-purple, or white.

Habitat

Open forest, woodlands, grasslands to 4,500’. Often in the coastal sage scrub.

Ethnobotanical Information

The corms can be eaten both raw and cooked.