The Lily Species
Lily is an herbaceous plant belonging to Lilium genus, which is found in the northern hemisphere where it is not only found extensively in the wild, but grows in various habitats. As of now, botanists have identified as many as 80 species and many of them are supposed to be resilient when grown in gardens in places having temperate climatic conditions. One can find lily species growing in places having diverse conditions – from the cold Siberia, Japan, North Korea to the Mediterranean as well as in India. Some lily species also grow in places close to the equator.
A number of lily species are not very resilient in our gardens and these have their origin in the various islands in the Pacific. On the other hand, lily species those come from the mountainous regions of Tibet, China and Burma have almost smeared the demarcation lines between lilies and Nomocharis and fritillaries. Lilies produce very delightful flowers, which are not likely to be seen in showcases in the garden centers in your neighborhood. They are acclimatized to their native habitats and it may prove to be difficult to cultivate them unless one possesses the technology to recreate the conditions prevailing in their places of origin.
Various different types of lilies are usually found worldwide. In addition, the flowers of these plants appear in different forms, sizes as well as hues.
In fact, lilies are wonderful plants for growing in beds as well as borders. They are also the right plants to be grown in a shrub border in the form of accent plants, a formal or even a naturalized pool planting. You may also grow a small lily species in an alpine garden – they will fit perfectly.
Lilies are very popular for the purpose of gifting someone close to you because of their regal beauty as well as the various colors and forms they come in. In fact, the various forms, colors and types of lilies symbolize various things. Casablanca and stargazer lily bouquets are among the most sought after among all flower bouquets of different types of lilies. In addition to bouquets, potted lily plants as well as lily bulbs are popular as gift items.
It is worth noting the different Lilium species have their origin in different countries. For instance, species like Lilium pyrenaicum and Lilium monadelphum have their origin in European countries like Spain and Turkey respectively. On the other hand, Lilium lancifolium and Lilium auratum have come from Asian countries.
To a great extent, the size of any lily plant depends on the specific Lilium species. Usually, a plant can grow up to a height of anything between 2 feet and 6 feet. The plant emerges from a bulb that can be found close to the soil surface or deep into the ground. Lilies produce large, attractive flowers in various hues – including white, red, yellow, orange, pink or purple. Lily flowers can be found covered with various types of freckle. It is interesting to note that every color of lily flower denotes something special. While white lilies are a symbol of purity, tiger lilies manifest majesty and wealth, and daylilies stand for coquetry. All true lily flowers comprise six tepals (combined sepals and petals) and the nectar of these plants is produced at the base of their leaves. Lilies pass through a dormant phase during the cold winter months and they are in bloom during the period between spring and autumn.
The large, beautiful flowers of various hues as well as the plant’s delectable nectar draw insects. Particular lily species are wind pollinated. You can propagate lilies from their seeds, bulbs as well as by means of tissue cultures. Among all types of lilies, the white and tiger lilies are aromatic, while the remaining varieties are odourless. Tiger lilies produce large, bright yellow-hued flowers having outstanding dark spots on the internal side of their petals. This type of coloration is characteristic for tigers and, hence, this Lilium species has been named “tiger lily”.
A number of lily species can also be used in the form of food. In fact, the bulbs of lilies enclose plenty of starch and they are sometimes used in the form of root vegetables. Apart from humans, mice, insects, squirrels as well as deer usually consume wild lilies. Lily encloses specific compounds that often promote renal failure in cats. Actually lilies are very detrimental for cats as even a tiny amount of the flower’s pollens may cause poisoning in these animals. However, lilies are safe for humans. In fact, Asian traditional herbal medicine uses lilies extensively for treating depression, in addition to specific types of toxicities.
Lilies are often used as cut flowers and they have the ability to survive for some days in a flower vase. If you remove the pollens from the flowers, it will help to prolong their lifespan in the vase. At the same time, it will also prevent any type of stain developing on the tepals. Lilies are perennially growing plants. In other words, these plants are able to survive for over two years when growing in the wild.
Lilies can be found growing in a number of ways – in large populations or scattered. These plants can be found growing at various elevations ranging from sea-level to maybe at altitudes of 2600 meters (8500 feet). It has been found that a particular type of lily can be confined to a specific soil type and never venture out of a very narrow pH range. Some lilies only grow on acidic soils, while there are other lilies that are found growing on alkaline soils. On the other hand, many lilies have a preference for neutral soils.
The distribution of a particular lily species may be very restricted. For instance, you will find the Lilium regale only in one side of a steep valley in China. On the other hand, there are some lilies that are actually wanderers – for instance the Lilium martagon which is found growing from Siberia to Poland and even down in the Balkans. Apart from being a globe-trotting lily species, the flowers of L. martagon also differ in their color and size. However, the overall nature of the plant remains more or less same and the variation is very restricted. This lily species can be recognized very easily, almost instantly. This is very different from various other wild lilies, for instance a number of U.S. species that have a propensity to become one with another. The lily species having their origin in the hilly valley series in western America appear to have advanced in their isolated homes which are barricaded by mountains. As a result, these lily species are not as well distinguished as those growing towards the valleys’ more open ends. The trumpet lily (botanical name Lilium formosanum) is found growing from the sea-level to altitudes of about 3600 meters (12,000 feet) in Taiwan. In fact, this lily has got its name from the erstwhile name of this island nation in Asia.
Lily plants growing quite low down may be up to 1.8 meter (6 feet) high and they usually produce numerous flowers. On the other hand, lilies growing at higher altitudes usually grow up to a height of anything between 25 cm and 30 cm (10 inches and 12 inches) and produce only one flower, for instance the L. f. pricei. In between these two extremes, there is a wide assortment of lilies.
Over the years, several botanists have developed numerous lily divisions as well as groups from various species depending either on the similarities or differences in the form of their flowers, leaf form, inclination of their bulbs and even their geographical distribution. Noted botanist Harold F. Comber made some well-documented classifications of lilies and published them in 1949. Comber divided all the lily species into seven different categories:
- American section