Species Lilies--TOW

Mary Sue Ittner msittner@mcn.org
Sun, 01 Jun 2003 17:39:34 PDT
Dear All,

Our topic of the week this week is Species Lilies. John Bryan has provided 
us with an introduction to this topic. Thank you John.

Species Lilies
John E. Bryan  F. I. Hort

There are some 100 or more species of Lilium distributed throughout the 
temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The Latin name is derived 
from the Greek Leirion used by Theophrastus for the Madonna Lily.

The majority of lilies are easy to grow, basic location being heads in the 
sun and feet in the shade. Good drainage is essential. With the exception 
of  L. candidum, they should be planted twice as deep as the height of the 
bulb. L. candidum  should be barely covered with soil and is best planted 
in late summer. The colors of pastel shades are best with a little shade so 
they do not lose their color in the sun.

The Horticultural Classification of Lilies puts species in Division 9, with 
8 subdivisions.
A.= L. martagon form with reflexed flowers,
B.= Upright flowers such as L. tsingtauense
C.= Lilies of American origin.
D.= Forms of L. longiflorum
E.= Bowl-shaped or trumpet flowers such as L. regale
F.= Asiatic species with short trumpets such as L. nepalense
G.= Forms and varieties of L. auratum and L. speciosum
H.= Asiatic lilies usually dwarf, close to Nomocharis such as L. mackliniae

Feeding roots are produced by the stem between the top of the bulb and 
where the stem emerges from the soil, as well as from the basal plate. On 
this portion of the stem, stem bulblets are produced as well as from the 
base of the bulb. Propagation can also be accomplished by scaling, seed, 
stem bulbils, and tissue culture.

Ideal for containers, with the exception of L. lankongense and L. wardii. 
these species produce stolons or travel horizontally underground. Lilies 
are great for decks or patios and rightly are regarded as the aristocrats 
of flowers.

While I am sure we all have our favorites, I feel the following species are 
worthy of consideration for all gardens. Many of these we grew in Oregon in 
the fields, in full sun but with adequate water at all times through their 
growing period.

L. amabile is from Korea and can reach 48" in height on slender stems which 
will carry 6-8 pendant red flowers well spaced in a raceme. They have a 
fragrance which some gardeners dislike, and the species increases quickly 
from stem bulblets and seed is produced in quantity. The var. luteum is 
yellow or orange and will put on a good show in early summer. Another 
advantage of this species is that once well established it seems to 
withstand drought.

L. auratum is one of my favorites and a long time resident of many gardens. 
Introduced in 1862 from Japan, it was responsible for the poor reputation 
lilies had for many years as being difficult to grow. The reason being the 
roots were often removed prior to packing, and in transit they lost much 
moisture resulting in poor quality bulbs being sold. Modern transport and 
packing methods plus being raised from seed in this country enables top 
quality bulbs to be purchased. The height the species can reach is quite 
amazing, 7 feet not being unusual and reaching over 10 feet in ideal 
conditions. The large flowers, 8-10 inches in diameter, are carried on down 
and outward facing pedicels. The flowers are bowl-shaped and the crimson 
spots accentuate the pure white with a golden central band of the tepals 
and one flower will produce so much fragrance that it is almost 
unbelievable. There are several varieties. L.a. var. platyphyllum is 
possibly the most commonly grown and the tallest. Var. pictum has a crimson 
& gold center stripe and var. rubrovittatum has a crimson central band. 
Var. virginale is pure white with just a hint of gold in the median stripe. 
This species has been much used in hybridising, and rightly so in my 
opinion. It flowers in late summer.

L. canadense, native to the east coast of Canada and parts of the New 
England States, is another delight. I remember seeing it reaching well over 
6 feet in height, with 20 flowers per stem on long pedicels, with lemon 
yellow pointed tepals with dark purple spots. The flowers become bell 
shaped as they mature. This lily likes to grow on the edge of woodlands 
where it can obtain a little shade. The bulbs spread quite easily as they 
produce short stolons and a new bulb forms at the ends. There are several 
varieties; one L.c. var. coccineum is a geographic variation found in 
Appalachian Mountains. It is shorter than the species.

L. hansonii is a tough lily, coming from islands off Korea. The leaves are 
in whorls reaching some 48 inches in height and the plant produces orange 
flowers which are pendant on upward arching pedicels. Once established this 
species should be left undisturbed for years. While preferring sun, it 
tolerates light shade.

L. japonicum is a lovely shell pink with funnel shaped flowers seldom 
reaching more than 24" in height and in the wild often found among bamboo. 
It does seem susceptible to virus but the color is a delight.

L. lancifolium is the famed Tiger Lily, vigorous, quite commonly grown and 
will perform well even under quite poor conditions. It produces a lot of 
stem bulbils and the blackish stems, covered with white hairs can reach 60 
inches or more in height. The flowers are bright orange sometimes tinged 
pink with the tepals much recurved. I would hazard a guess that this is 
perhaps the easiest lily to grow.

L. martagon with its many varieties is another fine lily. It has a Turk's 
Cap form, rather thick petals, and the scales of the bulb are yellow. It is 
very free flowering with up to 50 flowers on a stem with whorled leaves 
that can reach 60 inches in height. It remains in flower for a long time 
and while we grew it in full sun, it is just as happy in some shade but may 
not be as tall in such locations. The species is pale to deep (rather dull) 
pink but the varieties can be found with yellow, purplish-pink, red or 
carmine flowers. It seems to be very happy among shrubs.

L. nepalense is an unusual color having pendant flowers of green and dark 
purple in the throat. It is early flowering but while reported to be tender 
we had no problem growing it in the fields in Oregon where temperatures 
fell to 15F. It is not tall, and while some authorities say it will reach 
48 inches in height, it is generally less. It is another bulb that produces 
stolons but even so does well in containers. Var. concolor is pure yellow 
but not with shiny tepals.

L. regale is well known and rightly so producing up to 30 flowers on stems 
4 to 6 feet in height. The flowers are fragrant, trumpet shaped and 6 
inches in diameter so it is easy to understand why this is a delight in the 
summer garden. The 'crown' of flowers at the top of the stems gives it its 
name as the pedicels arise from more or less the same area. An outstanding 
cut flower and very easy to grow.

L. speciosum is another popular vigorous and delightful lily. Often over 6 
feet in height, pendant flowers sweetly fragrant, 6 inches in diameter with 
recurved tepals of rose to carmine with deep apple-green throats and 
distinct papillae flowering in late summer. I have seen as many as 40 
flowers on one plant with often secondary flowers giving a very 'full' 
head. A superb cut flower it does sometimes need a supporting stake in the 
garden. There are numerous varieties with some being pure white, others 
with deeper shades of red. All are well worth growing.

L tsimngtauense I love because it is again an unusual lily. The flowers are 
orange, irregularly spotted reddish and have a shallow bowl shape and are 
upright facing. The tepals are really thick and just over an inch long. It 
is hardy as all get-out, flowers in mid-summer and can be described as a 
rugged little species perhaps of no great beauty but it is unusual and a 
good  conversation provoking plant.

I am sure I have not included many species that are favorites of many bulb 
lovers. But the above might provide a base for discussion. 

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