Clintonia borealis is commonly known as bluebead, bluebead lily, or yellow clintonia. The term “bluebead” refers to the plant’s small blue spherical fruit, perhaps its most striking feature. However, the term can be misleading since all but one of the species in genus Clintonia have blue fruits (notably, the fruit of C. umbellulata is black). Thus yellow clintonia is probably a better name for C. borealis since the adjective refers to the color of the plant’s flower, a unique character among Clintonia species. Compound names such as yellow bead lily or yellow bluebead lily are also in use.
Clintonia borealis is not found in open spaces, only growing in the shade. It is extremely slow to spread, but established clones can usually survive many later modifications, as long as sunlight remains limited. Whereas crossed pollination is more efficient in producing seeds, self-pollination will still produce seeds, allowing the plant to propagate.
Like other slow-growing forest plants, such as Trillium species, Clintonia is extremely sensitive to grazing by white-tailed deer.