At 07:49 AM 7/13/2004 -800, Roger Whitlock wrote: >Does anyone know anything about a *yellow* form of the tiger lily? Thank you, Roger, for opening one of my favorite can-of-worms topics. In short, as far as I'm concerned, there is not and never has been such a thing as a yellow tiger lily. For that matter, I'll present the argument that there is no one such thing as the tiger lily. Read on. First of all, let's get one trivial nuisance out of the way. Mass distribution catalogs for years have sold something they call a yellow tiger lily. This is in fact a yellow flowered 1c Asiatic hybrid (or maybe several hybrids). Let's hope that's not what you got as a yellow tiger lily. Now on to the meat of the matter. Among "serious" lily fanciers, there have been over the decades plants making the rounds as Lilium tigrinum flaviflorum - aka Lilium lancifolium flaviflorum. An IPNI query came up blank for flaviflorum used with Lilium tigrinum or L. lancifolium. (Partick Synge in his Lilies attributes the name to Makino in 1933). I don't know the origin of these plants. The ones I've seen are not yellow tiger lilies. That is to say, they are not simply a typical garden tiger lily with yellow flowers. They tend to bloom earlier and have a slightly different poise to the flower. My guess is that they are tiger lily seedlings (more about this later). To really answer your question, the tiger lily itself has to be put into context. When the tiger lily was introduced to Europe, it was assumed to be a new species of lily, and the name Lilium tigrinum was used for it for well over a century. (It is only relatively recently that Thungerg's name L. lancifolium has been widely accepted as pertaining to this "species".) But those are merely nomenclatural quibbles. In all the squabbling over which name is correct, I think the real issue has been ignored. The real issue is this: does the tiger lily deserve consideration as a species, or is it something else? And if it is something else, does it even deserve a botanical name? As far as I'm concerned, it's something else. A growing number of modern liriophiles regard the tiger lily as of hybrid origin. Now, at this point in this tangled tale I should point out that by tiger lily I mean the triploid tiger lilies. There are other plants, probably diploid, which at various times in the past have been put forward as the "true diploid species" of tiger lily. In the past, the existence of such diploid plants would have been hard to explain or ignore. Now we know better. European lily hybridists early on were able to use the tiger lily in their hybridizing efforts in spite of the fact that the tiger lily was virtually universally regarded as a sterile triploid. We now know that stray unreduced gametes occur occasionally in pollen - tetraploid gametes. Tiger lilies readily form seed from compatible tetraploid pollen. That business about "sterile triploids" was a myth. And what do you get when you plant those seeds? Well, it depends on the plant which provided the pollen. But if tiger lilies are pollinated with tetraploid pollen derived from a lily like a tiger lily, you get lots of seedlings which look like tiger lilies. I know this from personal experience. The odds are that some will be diploids, some triploids. The diploids have the potential to form the nucleus of a diploid tiger lily-like population. I subscribe to the hypothesis that the so-called diploid tiger lilies are in fact tiger lily seedlings. In other words, the triploid tiger lilies are not derived from these diploid plants, it's the other way around: the diploids are derived from the triploids. And I also believe that the so-called yellow tiger lilies are derived in the same way. They are seedlings of the triploid tiger lilies. Perhaps you are thinking "if they are seedlings of the triploid tiger lilies, why are they not yellow tiger lilies?" Because another parent was involved, the parent which provided the unreduced gamete, the tetraploid gamete which fertilized the triploid gamete of the tiger lily. This hypothesis makes sense to me if only because it accounts for the small but significant differences to be observed between true triploid tiger lilies and these so-called yellow tiger lilies. BTW, it's not impossible that even a triploid tiger lily itself could provide suitable pollen, but the odds against this must be astronomical. In that case, the seedlings would be "pure" tiger lily; but since the tiger lily itself appears to be of hybrid origin, what you get is more hybrids - something homologous to a horticultural strain. In a sense, there is really no such thing as the tiger lily. The term is used for a group of clones (clones in the original sense of the word, definitely not in the contemporary sense) of presumably similar but independent origin. Another way to say it is to say that tiger lilies are polyphyletic. Can of worms, right? Jim McKenney firstname.lastname@example.org Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where our worms don't come out of cans.