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'L. catesbaei' (Species or Wild Lily)
Growing in coniferous marsh lands of Florida and Louisiana, parts of Alabama and Mississippi, this is the most unique of all the North American natives. The erect, narrow-petal, upward facing flowers of Lilium catesbaei are red blending to yellow at the base. A difficult subject, if seed can be obtained, it is best to grow it in pots containing a constantly wet mixture of sand and peat moss. Best results come from using pots that sit in a shallow pan of water. For those foolish enough to track this lily in the wild, carry your snake bite kit. Water moccasins do not take kindly to their habitat being invaded and are very protective of "their" flowers.
We tried unsuccessfully for several years to flower Lilium catesbaei from a bulb that we had tissue cultured. It is probably the most difficult of all of the American species. Photo of L. catesbaei as found in the wild courtesy of Dr. Richard M. Adams.
Photo inset is of a "studio" shot of L. catesbaie by Edgar Kline as provided by Bill and Mary Hoffman. Shot nearly 70 years ago it shows that even the master growers have to settle for only one flower per stem on this delicate and rare species.
Wild Lily bulbs making up the genus Lilium belong to the family Liliaceae comprising of approximately 200 genera made up of approximately 2,000 lily species. There are in the neighborhood of 110 to 120 Lilium species depending on whose classification you reference. For the full article, click Knowledge Base