Notholirion thomsonianum

Jane McGary
Sun, 20 Apr 2003 11:34:08 PDT
How about a "Mediterranean" bulb from the Himalaya?

Notholirion thomsonianum is putting on quite a show here just now. This
lily relative comes from the drier region in the western Himalaya and
Afghanistan, where it grows at mid elevations (reportedly to about 7500
feet) in scrub on rocky slopes. The flowering stems are about 30 inches/75
cm tall with numerous flowers on very short pedicels. The flowers are
outfacing slender trumpets about 3 inches/7.5 cm long, in color lavender
(similar to some Hosta flowers) with exserted stamens bearing peach-colored
anthers. They have a faint scent reminiscent of Lilium longiflorum (Easter

Like its close relative Cardiocrinum, Notholirion (there are 3 other
species, from wetter and higher regions of the Himalaya) has a monocarpic
bulb. After flowering, the main bulb dies and leaves numerous small
offsets, which take two to four years to reach flowering size. It is easily
grown from seed, too.

I find this plant does best in a bulb frame here, since its foliage grows
through the winter and would be frozen in this climate, but it should do
great outdoors in slightly warmer, drier areas such as southern Oregon or
the higher elevations of California. It has to be left undisturbed for 3 or
4 years to encourage flowering, and also needs a dry (but not desiccating)
summer dormancy.

I should have some offsets available this summer for those who are patient
enough to wait for the flowers.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon

More information about the pbs mailing list