Lilium neilgherense
Thu, 22 Sep 2011 06:20:58 PDT
Ref Jim's posting on this and two other taxa of subtropical Lilium

I have all three taxa in the botanical Lilium conservation collection 
here Jim.

While noting that this taxon Lilium neilgherense is in some instances 
treated as a synonym for Lilium wallichianum it appears sufficiently 
different to, in my view, warrant full species status however it 
undoubtedly does have a very distant in geological terms [and time] 
relationship however they are I would suggest true species, if we 
ever get a precise definition for that from amongst the lumpers and 
splitters. Whether or not they are able to be hybridised I cannot say 
because this year apart from having asynchronistic flowering I was 
unable to undertake artificial pollination and in any event ambient 
air temps were so low this Spring insect activity has led to very 
poor to almost non existent natural pollination. Generally I would 
regard myself as a 'lumper'. In the main L. neilgherense is an 
obvious white taxon but plants tending to forma rosea have been 
reported in nature but I have not seem them. Due to agricultural 
pressure pushing tea plantations ever further uphill in the area of 
the main distribution this lily is under threat, another source of 
pressure is the fondness of wild pigs - Sus scrufa who positively 
adore the bulbs and will grub out a whole colony overnight unless 
growing in boulder areas. Seed is the usual route for propagation 
however I found that my stock appear to be clonal and sent to me as 
waxy white bulbils produced by their wandering underground stems much 
as for example with L. lankongense.

In respect to the two Japanese taxa LL. alexandrae and nobilissimum 
these are very much distinct in a number of characters but no doubt 
their evolutionary relationships are not dissimilar to that of the 
above Indian taxa. These latter two have another distant relative, 
even more subtropical in L. philippinense from further south.

There is a general dearth of seed here in northern Europe from 
amongst most of the geophytes owing to cold Spring weather but 
perhaps it might be possible to help next year if the gods are kind, 
we are all getting rather fed up with the struggle caused by the 
return to colder climates, until recently it has been possible here 
to get away with quite a lot including Lilium nepalense going native 
despite lack of snow cover during a - 22 C ground frost episode last 
January but up they came again this year until the deer nobbeled 
them. Venison pie was little consolation.


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