Lilium formosanum

John Grimshaw
Wed, 20 Aug 2008 14:56:39 PDT
My sole contribution to the Flora of Tropical East Africa has been to write 
the account of the Liliaceae - this sounds quite grand, but in fact the only 
representative is the alien Lilium formosanum! Nevertheless this warrants a 
'fascicle' (individual portion of the work) of its own, and is available 
from RBG Kew for the sum of £12.90 (one folded sheet of A4 paper inside 
covers!). Please note that the author does not receive royalties.

Anyway, in researching this species I came to the conclusion that var. 
pricei is probably not tenable, as there seems to be a continuum of stature 
in the wild, and that the minuscule things in cultivation under that name 
are probably the result of selections from selections brought back by 
William Price from 'Formosa' (Taiwan) in 1912. These would probably be best 
treated as L. formosanum Pricei Group in horticulture. Incidentally, William 
Price lived about a mile up the valley here and is remembered by some older 
residents: he accompanied H.J. Elwes of Colesbourne on his journey to 
Taiwan. He also collected a clone of Pleione formosana long-known as P. 
pricei, but now called P. formosana 'Oriental Grace'.

The other thing that is very striking is that in wild/naturalised situations 
it is almost always single-flowered, whereas in cultivation it can be 
multi-flowered. I have not seen the JC Raulston stock (mentioned by Jim 
Waddick in starting this thread)  in flower, but have seen its towering 
capsules in winter and thought it was magnificent even then. L. formosanum 
is in general not a great success in the UK, perhaps because of virus, but 
also I think it needs a hotter summer than we can provide (even in a good 

John Grimshaw

Dr John M. Grimshaw
Sycamore Cottage
Nr Cheltenham
Gloucestershire GL53 9NP

Tel. 01242 870567

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