If you’ve ever seen the blue-bead lily, Clintonia borealis, on your lakeshore property, then you have a cool, shady, coniferous or mixed deciduous woodlands that will also be the home for other spectacular native wildflowers. This boreal forest wildflower is named for its brilliant deep blue fruit, which is uniquely showy and attractive against shiny green leaves.
Although delicious looking, the beads are poisonous to humans but eaten by chipmunks and birds. Native Americans once used the leaves as an antiseptic poultice applied to wounds, infections, and burns. This herbaceous perennial spreads through underground stems, called rhizomes, and by its seeds. It grows slowly, forming colonies that glitter and coat the forest floor.
Although the Vermont Wildflower Farm sells blue-bead lily seeds for planting, it is difficult to propagate and can take several years before a blue bead forms! If you are lucky enough to have this plant along your lakeshore, treasure it because its sheer beauty will always brighten your day.
For more information on Vermont shoreland native plants and lake-friendly practices, visit the Vermont Lake Wise Program at: http://www.watershedmanagement.vt.gov/lakes/htm/lp_lakewise.htm