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Products > Chlorogalum pomeridianum
Chlorogalum pomeridianum - Soap Lily

Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Bulb/Tuber/Rhizome etc.
Family: Hyacinthaceae (~Amaryllidaceae)
Origin: California (U.S.A.)
Flower Color: White
Bloomtime: Spring
Height: 1-2 feet
Width: 2-3 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: < 0 °F
Chlorogalum pomeridianum (Soap Lily) - A bulbous plant that forms clumps in winter into mid summer of 1 to 2 foot long narrow strap-like leaves rising from a basal rosettte. The leaves have undulating margins and lie along the ground or rise only slightly upward. In the late spring and summer arising above the leaves appear the long open inflorescences with fragrant white flowers of 3 petals and 3 nearly identical sepals with prominent long stamens that open in the late afternoon and evening. The plant has a brief dormancy when the leaves dry up in fall. Plant in full sun to light shade. Requires little or no irrigation. Hardy below 0 F and can be planted in USDA Zone 6. Found through much of California except in the higher mountains and deserts and north into Oregon on rock bluffs, grasslands, chaparral, and in open woodlands. It is also called Wavy-leafed Soap Plant, California Soaproot and Amoles. It was formerly classified as being in the Liliaceae family, but has more recently been placed in the Hyacinthaceae family and recent DNA evidence shows it to more closely allied to the Agavaceae family. Native Americans used the fibers surrounding the bulb to make small brushes and the juices of the bulb, containing saponins, were used for soap - a practice adopted by early European settlers. The bulb could also be cooked and used for glue or eaten, though only when other foods were exhausted. The name Chlorogalum comes from the Greek word 'chloros' meaning "green" and 'gala' meaning "milk" in reference to the green sap exuded by a broken leaf. The specific epithet pomeridianum is derived from the Latin phrase 'post meridiem' meaning “past mid-day” in reference to the flowers appearing late in the day. - this is the term which also gave rise to our abbreviation "P.M." for afternoon and evening”. The picture on this page from the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council website.  The information on this page is based on the research that we have conducted about this plant in the San Marcos Growers library, from what we have found on reliable online sources, as well as from observations made of our crops of this plant growing in the nursery and of plants growing in the nursery's garden and those in other gardens where we may have observed it. We also have incorporated comments received from others and welcome getting feedback from those who may have additional information, particularly if this information includes cultural information that would aid others in growing Chlorogalum pomeridianum.