During the mid-1800s, Utah was ravaged by a plaque of crop-devouring crickets. Many families went hungry, but they learned to dig for and eat the soft, bulbous root of the sego lily. The memory of this use, as well as its natural beauty, caused it to be adopted as the floral state emblem of Utah in 1911.
Also called mariposa lily, the bulb of the sego lily was roasted, boiled, or made into a porridge by native Americans before the Mormon pioneers. The sego lily is native to a number of western states (including Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico). In Utah, the plant grows on open grass and sage rangelands in the Great Basin.
The Sego Lily is quite beautiful when it is in bloom (generally in early summer). The three broad petals come in white, cream or lavender with a yellow base and are brightly streaked or spotted with purple. Oddly, the Sego Lily can move the bulb deeper into the soil by using contracting roots to dig itself in.