Lilium formosanum
Thu, 21 Aug 2008 14:04:37 PDT
Perhaps the following information on this taxon would be of interest. There are three recognised botanical varieties currently; the nominate L. formosanum var. formosanum Wallace;  Lilium formosanum var. microphyllum T.S. Liu & S.S.Ying; and Lilium formosanum var. pricei Stoker. The latter is a high altitude ecotype which never the less breeds true from seed and faithfully follows the temperate regional seasons. There are a number of plants in circulation which could justify the varietal status, or forma at least of 'alba', these are pure white without any yellow or rose tinting. One group of this colour form is registered to Wall & Wall under the registered name of Lilium formosanum 'Special Group'. I understand these to be erratic as to time of flowering and may well not be of much use in USDA or European equivalent hardiness zones e.g. 6 to 8 perhaps implying they must have been developed by the Walls from coastal provenances. Another similar selection is known as 'Wilson's Pure White'.

However, it should be borne in mind that from the coastal region up through the altitudinal range of this species there is clear continuous cline in height of the plants. What isn't clear here in the West is at what altitudinal level this species ceases to adopt an accurate, or normal, seasonal growth rhythm. The variety 'microphyllum' is found restricted to growing at or near coastal level in northern Taiwan. This variety is unfortunately not yet in the lily collection here, indeed it may not as far as I can ascertain be in cultivation at all outside of Taiwan. Of interest might be that I have been told that the Taiwanese do not in fact recognise the variety 'pricei' in their Flora. At the lowest coastal stations this species can be found growing on rocks derived from coral type limestone and can be found in flower most months of the year at such sites. The variety 'pricei' grown in the collection here is growing in almost pure granite derived free draining sand and gravel with a pH of 4.5 and have breezed through - 18C at quite a shallow depth, I think the important point is the free draining aspect to the soil because if it were heavy silt or clay reataining moisture I am not sure how they would cope. There are very many registered cultivars of Lilium formosanum, some fifteen currently as this lily has a high economic value in various countries apart from Taiwan.

Regards,  Iain
Auchgourish Botanic Garden

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