Soaproot, also known as amole or amole lily, has a range that extends from southwest Oregon down to San Diego, California. In the Klamath-Siskiyou it is most often found in foothill woodland, mixed conifer forest, and white oak or madrone woodland in the valley bottom. Calflora classifies the genus Chlorogalum in the Agavaceae family, while the Oregon Flora Project classifies it in Asparagaceae. Depending on the location, soaproot will bloom between May and July. The flowers are borne on a very tall (up to 2′ tall) flowering stem. Soaproot flowers open in the evening, stay open overnight, and close up in the morning. Because of its flowering time, it is generally lesser-known, night flying pollinators that pollinate soaproot; however, if you watch soaproot flowers in the warmth of the early evening you may still find bumble bees and other day flying native bees and pollinators searching for pollen and nectar before nighttime comes on. Soaproot grows from a large, elongated bulb covered in thick coarse fibers. The juices of the bulb contain natural saponins that can be used as a soap, hence the common name. Native American tribes within its range used soaproot for soap, but they also used the fibers of the bulb for brushes. The Miwok people reportedly roasted and ate the bulb as a winter food, cooking out the inedible saponins. After flowering and setting seed, soaproot goes dormant for the remainder of the summer and fall, pushing up new leaves in early winter. Soaproot grows easily from seed, however, to reach the flowering stage it may take 3-5 years. The first few years the long, strap-like leaves will grow from the large, fibrous bulb, feeding the bulb for future flowers.
Seed Germination Instructions
No pretreatment required. Sow outside in fall to early spring.