Lilium michiganense

Iain Brodie of Falsyde
Thu, 26 Jun 2008 13:20:45 PDT
James has highlighted what for me is an increasingly occurring conundrum, at least on this side of the pond, in relation to certain New World Lilium, especially the mid and east continental species. Adding L.canadense to L. michiganense it seems from my searches through the literature in order to record an Index of Synonymy that there appears to be to some extent muddied waters on that score and in relation to the urge in some quarters [still] to accord a taxonomic description and name to almost every variant. Lilium michiganense is spared some of the excesses associated with naming Lilium canadense however. 

If as a very rough bench mark pro tem one accepts that there are roughly some 140 + - species, subspecies, varietas and forma amongst Lilium I have so far ? blundered ? onto in excess of 550 validly published names. I use the word blundered with increasing feeling.  Amongst the vast number of botanical taxa there are no synonyms or only at most one or two. However amongst many North American and several Asiatics, Japanese mainly, there are prodigious amounts of names which have been published especially in relation to L. canadense, with one example being Lilium canadense subsp. michiganense. However, as I am led to believe Lilium michiganense is largely discrete in its distribution with little if any overlapping contact with L. canadense, although believed to be related, the former is found mainly west of the Alleghany Mts, the latter east of them, therefore if hybrids exists these are most likely to be assumed to be the result of the hand of man perhaps. In that event, the variability James mentions is quite possibly the result of natural occurrences if the situation includes hybrids, which it may not, and which might be expected from any species with such a large distribution. Ecotypes may well in truth account to some large extent for the variability he mentions and I which have seen referred to elsewhere as being between  2 ft / 60 cms and  5 ft / 150 cms; I would love to see plants of the latter ! In fact Jim I would dearly love to see pics of your L. michiganense when in full throttle please. Obviously local soils, day lengths and climate need to be factored into as well as to height, but there are frequent examples of forms of albinism in lilies whose normal colour is described as red, that comes with a caveat for caution well and patiently explained to me by another of the merry band here, Jim Shields. 

By the way a classic misnamed example currently, in respect to albinism, is Lilium leichtlinii and Lilium leichtlinii var. maximowiczii. The latter is what I, and several others, would term the normal state, the former the albino. Out of interest incidentally, due to an error the name 'leichtlinii' was chosen ahead of 'maximowizcii' without realising that Regel had first published the name 'maximowizcii' between 1840 - 1846 and again in 1866, whereas Hooker. f. published his 'leichtlinii' in Nov. 1867. Therefore on the grounds of prior publication under the Intern. Rules of Nomenclature the correct name would seem to be Lilium maximowiczii, with the albino variety being Lilium maximowiczii var. leichtlinii, which is the treatment I propose using in my book, however, with apologies, to some extent I digress.

Jim poses the question, "will these colour variants come true from seed? " I think very often they will do, especially when pollinated, like with like. Within different species certain colours may be expressed as dominant genes, others as recessive. Some species like Lilium regale and Lilium henryi play by their own rules however; being an apomict, the former can throw a spanner in the works however I have no references to that effect with Lilium michiganense. I did learn something new from Jim's post for which I am grateful, i.e. that this species has tetraploid forms, I would be immensely appreciative for any accessible, or other, references, e.g. is this state considered a natural development, as in Lilium lancifolium, or by means of colchicine use in the lab? The fun, and the patience, should prove worth waiting for, however being wise bird I think Jim could set about working a thesis in advance of pollination, controlled or other wise, and having done so put it to the test in due course. 


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