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Wild Lilies - Knowledge Base on the Lilium Species

Wild Lilies <BR>(Knowledge Base) Updated in July, 2012

(Clicking on a photo opens a new page, with a larger image, and in some cases, more information or photos of a hybrid example bred from that particular Lilium species.)

©2012 Robert J. Gibson - 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. During the past few years, a number of “new” Lilium species have been exported out of China from wild stands of bulbs, many still waiting to be properly classified. To think that every river valley or mountain side has been explored and there is nothing left to find is a mistake, opportunities still await the plant adventurer.

(To view photographs as a group, without the written descriptions, go to Lily Species Photo Gallery You can click on any photo for more details, useful if you are trying to identify a variety you have growing in your garden.)

As with so many familiar plants in our gardens, we often wonder, where they came from and how were they created into so many lovely and varied forms. As we trace ancestral lines back on every lily hybrid, we eventually find that its origin was two species, sometimes a cross made by nature herself, but more commonly, one made by man. We find a wonderful array of color and flower forms in nature’s creations. A journey back to the lily species that made your hybrid bulbs will lead you across the entire Northern Hemisphere. From the plains, mountains, and swamps of North America to the sub-tropical jungles of Burma; the harsh regions of Siberia to the rolling grasslands of Greece and the plains and valleys of all Europe; to high in the Himalayas to the stormy beach grasses of northern Japan. We find tiny dime-sized dangling flowers to huge blooms, the size of a dinner plate. In the lilies of the wild, gardeners find nature’s full rainbow of colors, white, pink, red, orange, yellow, and cream, but no blue tones, the genetics are simply not there.

Many gardeners after having grown and marveled at hybrid lily bulbs begin to wonder about the original species, endeavoring to include them in the garden. As the years have passed, commercial growers of lilies have mostly taken pure species out of their production fields. In the first half of the 20th Century, catalogs specializing in lilies were full of species offerings as there were few hybrids available. Most of these came by way of English, Dutch and German growers.

In the United States, the name Edgar Kline was synonymous with where to go for Lilium species. With the increased number of new hybrids requiring less toil in the garden, purity gardens with only wild collected or nursery propagated lily bulbs started to be forgotten. With the end of the 20th Century, as more and more gardeners began seeking the simpler times of the past and a return to their “roots” so to speak, a renewed interest in Lilium has occurred. As interest once again grows, the specialty grower is faced with “do I invest seven to twelve years to get crops up to numbers and size and will there still be a demand fifteen years and beyond if I do?” Yes, perhaps now, Lilium pumilum at four dollars each will be popular, but what about Lilium kelloggii , Lilium ciliatum , or Lilium ocellatum at twenty dollars per bulb?

Unfortunately, species lily bulbs commonly found just a mere twenty five years ago are virtually unheard of now by even the most avid gardeners. Even more tragic is the destruction of so many native stands worldwide in the name of progress. It is safe to say that we will never again see the availability of these rare beauties for the garden that our parents and grandparents enjoyed. Unfortunately, the wild lilies fell by the wayside for the less temperamental and nearly foolproof hybrids for a new generation of gardeners.

Requiring much more attention and time, it finally comes down to what is cost effective for the commercial grower and what is not. Though there is a constant and steady demand for the species, it is not great enough to “pay the bills”. Those specialists still producing Lilium species bulbs are the people who are willing to spend sometimes as many as seven or eight years to produce a flowering size bulb from a seed and then another couple years to get some size on the bulbs so they will produce multiple flowers after being moved to their new garden home. As a result of this investment of time, we must expect and be willing to often pay dearly for their efforts to include these rare marvels in our gardens.

Recently, several species not seen in the market place for many years are now being produced from a few small growers in Holland. The downside is that they are being marketed no differently than hybrid garden lilies and failure rates are high. Lilium cernuum along with the white colored variant ‘candidum’ as well as Lilium nepalense have very exacting requirements for successful growth. Unfortunately the catalogers often promoting themselves as “experts” are not propagators but are merely jobbers and do not provide proper growing instructions. It is easier to offer “no guarantee” for successful growth than to take the time to learn about what they are buying from brokers for resale. In the case of both the above mentioned species, each has one very simple, though different, “secret” for success. Not being actual propagators of these lily bulbs, they have no idea as to the secrets of success and are unable to properly instruct their customers.

Before you decide to try your hand with the wild ones, it is best to become familiar with their special requirements. Varieties such as Lilium henryi , Lilium speciosum , Lilium auratum , Lilium pumilum , Lilium superbum , Lilium canadense , Lilium pardalinum , Lilium regale , Lilium bulbiferum , and Lilium dauricum , are considered to be quite easy and will forgive you, as with most garden hybrids, if conditions are not exact from year to year. Unfortunately the number of forgiving Lilium species is quite small. Once having grown and succeeded with these and armed with the confidence of success, you may want to venture out into the slightly more difficult. Lilium amabile , Lilium monadelphum , Lilium szovitsianum , Lilium concolor , Lilium hansonii , and Lilium tsingtauense .

All lily bulb species have special needs and with some preparation, most of us can find that special place in our garden that offers a chance at success. To start, a soil with porous gravel subsoil, permitting the essential sub drainage that species require and have in nature is a must. This is the first and a key element, but not the final answer. EVERY species has its own, special requirements for success. One of the aims in the successful cultivation of lily bulb species is to provide a deep and cool root run that will store the necessary moisture, but one that will not hold excessive amounts of water during their resting period in late fall and through the winter.

You must mimic nature as closely as possible if you are to expect even marginal success with the more difficult subjects, and again, providing the proper soil mix is only the beginning. In nature we find most species with their heads in the sun, and a low growing, native ground cover keeping the bulbs cool. Their need for an accompanying, protective ground cover in most cases is essential. Venturing out further than this requires planning, a great deal of care, and a gardening spirit that is not easily dampened by failure. Those that succeed are the ones that don’t see a loss as a failure, but see it as a learning experience. Some species have foiled even the most knowledgeable of horticulturists in the most prestigious botanical gardens in the world.

Following, we have given some very basic growing requirements for each species. For those interested in learning more about the species, we recommend ‘Growing Lilies’ by Derek Fox published by Croom Helm Ltd, Provident House, Burrell Row, Beckenham, Kent, England BR3 1AT, ‘Lilies’ by Patrick M. Synge, Universe Books, 381 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016 as well as ‘Lilies’ by Ed Mcrae. These books can often be found by doing web searches. All are out of print and can be, like the ‘Synge’ book, rather expensive.

The photos shown for each species are offered as the best example we have of color and flower form. The flowers of many wild lily bulbs have colors that vary in hue as well as spotting patterns, even within the same colony, let alone natural colonies that may be separated by hundreds of miles. Most photos shown were taken of stock plants over the years at our nursery unless otherwise noted. No, there are not commercial quantities of most of these available. Some photos came from lily friends while some that had no labeling other than to say, “in Bunny’s garden”, which has left us wondering who sent them to us after years of being in storage. Some have faded with time but do still have merit in giving an overall view of each flower. There are many private gardeners out there with far more experience with the native lilies, and we would welcome the inclusion of any photos they may wish to share, along with firsthand experience and cultural information.

We planted our first Lilium species back in 1975 and have gone from a time with nearly 100 types and color variants to periods of only a handful. In our fall 1986 catalog, we offered sixty-three species selections, from one year tissue culture bulblets to mature flowering size bulbs.

Unfortunately the species lilies now are only a hobby, not a mainstay. B&D Lilies was begun at a time when the pioneers of our industry were still with us and species were plentiful. We are thankful to those early pioneers for befriending us and sharing their knowledge, love and enthusiasm for the wild lilies. This is not meant to be in any way a definitive work on Lilium , but is in response to many customer inquires over the years concerning these wonderful works of God and their wishes to view photos.

The species lilies shown below, for the most part, have either been grown here at our nursery or by acquaintances over a period of more than three decades. Where there was a choice of using a photo of a nursery grown plant or one tracked in the wild, we have opted for the photo taken in the natural habitat. Or in the case of Lilium Alexandrae for example starting off the photo gallery the photo given us by the late Ed McRae was by far the best example of this species, far surpassing our nursery photo. We especially thank Ed for freely sharing over many years, his firsthand knowledge and contagious love of the genus lilium.

During the month of June, 2012, a number of new as well as historic photos have been, or are being added to this knowledge base. Many avid growers of lilium species have come forward with beautiful examples of their gardening skills and we thank them all for their contributions. Included now are historic photos from the late 30's to the early 50's of specimens grown by the late Edgar Kline, as provided in the collection of slides given us by the daughter of the late Bill and Mary Hoffman. We also thank recent contributors Rimmer de Vries, Gene Mirro, Joe Nemmer, and Alan Mitchell.

©2012, Robert J. Gibson

(Clicking on a photo opens a new page, with a larger image, and in some cases, more information or photos of a hybrid example bred from that particular Lilium species.)



'L. alexandrae' - Species or Wild Lily
'L. alexandrae' - Species or Wild Lily

"Uke-Yuri" in Japan, is found on only three small islands, the largest island, Uke-shima is the one for which this lily was named. Very similar to Lilium nobilissimum, Lilium alexandrae produces large, highly fragrant, pure white flowers that are carried horizontally to slightly erect. A difficult subject, a greenhouse is almost a requirement for successful cultivation. This species is very susceptible to virus. Self-fertile, seed of Lilium alexandrae can take 12 months or more to germinate making patience truly a virtue. Best grown in pots containing a free draining medium rich in compost. Photo courtesy of Ed McRae.

Boyd C. Kline w/ L. washingtonianum var. purpurascens
Boyd C. Kline w/ L. washingtonianum var. purpurascens

This is a very early photo of plantsman Boyd C. Kline from the photo collection of Bill & Mary Hoffman.

Lily Bulb - 'L. albanicum' (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. albanicum' (Species or Wild Lily)

Once considered a subspecies of L. carniolicum (RHS International Lily Register as well as Patrick Synge in his book 'Lilies 1980) and most recently in the McRae book 'Lilies' 1998 as a subspecies of L. pyrenaicum, Derek Fox of England in his book 'Growing Lilies, 1985, also describes this beauty again as a subspecies of L. carniolicum being “the southern most counterpart of the type frequenting the mountainous areas of western Macedonia, Albania (where its name comes from) and northwestern Greece.

Described as being fairly easy to cultivate, the two main ingredients for success are said to be time and patience. It will tolerate an acidic soil but is most at home and does benefit from the addition of calcium to your garden mix. Fox states “it would benefit any plantsman's garden.” We thank plantsman Alan Mitchell of Scotland for his contribution of our example photo and flowering L. albanicum.

Lily Bulb - 'L. amabile luteum'   (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. amabile luteum' (Species or Wild Lily)

The golden yellow variant of Lilium amabile is believed to be a recessive mutant of the type. It is reported that this species first appeared in Holland from wild collected seed. Yellow forms crossed amongst the group will continue producing yellows.

Photo inset #1 is the Asiatic Hybrid 'Ignacio' bred by the late Don Egger, selected and introduced by B & D Lilies in the late 1990's.

Photo inset #2 is of a bed of 'Harlequin Hybrids' that were bred out of the De Graaff 'Mid Century' hybrids of which 'Enchantment' is the best known. Derek Fox of England in his book 'Lilies' said when looking as L. amabile var. luteum for breeding that it was this species that provided the yellow shades in the 'Mid Century' selections. Eddie McRae wrote the 'Harlequin Hybrids' were also a result of 'Edith Cecila' and 'Lemon Queen'. This photo was taken by Herman Wall sometime in the mid to late 1950's. Mr. Wall did much of the photography for the old Oregon Bulb Farms and this photo was provided by Eddie McRae back in the early 1980's for use in one of our catalogs.

As with so many others we have met over the years with B & D Lilies, I (Bob) am personally indebted to Mr. Wall for all the time he freely gave me in instructions and examples on how to "properly" photograph lilies. Herman was a genus behind the lens and could always been seen lugging around several large format cameras. I have to wonder what he would think today concerning digital.

Lily Bulb - 'L. amabile'
Lily Bulb - 'L. amabile'

A native of Asia, Lilium amabile has a wide range throughout the Korean Peninsula. A rewarding garden subject, Lilium amabile is well suited to cultivation in the Northwest's maritime climate but can be challenging in harsher areas. The orange-red flowers are Turk's Cap in form and carry numerous black spots. It will do well in full sun and tolerates fairly dry soils. Unfortunately, its fragrance leaves much to be desired, smelling like a cross between an old tennis shoe and a rotted cabbage, its best to just stand back and admire it for its beauty.

We first flowered this species in a cool greenhouse and thought something had crawled in under one of the benches and died, before realizing it was the flowers of Lilium amabile that was creating that terrible odor.

Lilium amabile luteum as well as its type were used by Jan de Graaff in producing his 'Fiesta Hybrids', registered in 1946, which in turn led to his world famous 'Mid-Century Hybrids', with 'Enchantment' probably being the best known.

Insert photo #1 is of 'Enchantment'.

Insert photo #2 is a full stem of L. amabile as flowered and photographed by Gene Mirro, June of 2012.

Lily Bulb - 'L. auratum bed'
Lily Bulb - 'L. auratum bed'

"Yama-Yuri" in Japan, Lilium auratum and it's variants have had more influence over the years on modern Oriental Hybrids than any other species. Described by some as "The Queen of Lilies" it is distributed mainly on the island of Honshu, Lilium auratum and its naturally varied forms are breath-taking, not only in their native wild habitat, but are also beautiful beyond compare in the home garden.

Flowering into August in cooler regions, Lilium auratum extends the Oriental bloom well into the summer. Enjoying a soil PH of 5.5 to 6.5, they can become garden giants reaching 6 feet or more in fertile, well drained soil. Bulbs of Lilium auratum variants 'platyphyllum' and 'virginale' are most commonly found. Lilium auratum "blood" can be found in such famous hybrids as the Imperials from Jan de Graaff, as well as the now lost, 'Empress of Japan' and 'Empress of India.'

Photo inset #1 is of 'Harvest Time' at the old Oregon Bulb Farm circa late 1940's. Relying the "modern" machinery, this was the giant leap forward in mechanized harvesting. At B & D Lilies, to this day, we still use a 1941 International Harvester one row potato digger as our harvester of choice if the ground is dry enough. All too often here in the rainy Pacific Northwest, our bulbs for fall delivery are usually hand dug.

This historic lily harvesting photo was printed on a glass slide and provided by the late Don Egger.

Photo inset #2 is a Edgar Kline studio shot of examples of the L. auratum he was growing in the late 1040's. Photo provided by Bill and Mary Hoffman.

Lily Bulb - 'L. auratum var. pictum'
Lily Bulb - 'L. auratum var. pictum'

A selection from 'Pictum' seedlings by J. S. Yeats of New Zealand in 1953, and sold under the name of 'Little Gem', the late Mr. Harve Strahm of Brookings, Oregon worked with this lily for years, but finally gave up due to its resistance to make large size bulbs. Typical three and four year crops produced only three to four-inch circumference bulbs with anywhere from two to four noses, which would only have one or two flowers. It was also prone to botrytis and rot during the winter months while dormant.

Photo inset #1 is of a variety of L. auratum var. pictum as grown by Edgar Kline. This photo from Bill and Mary Hoffman was taken around 1950. You will notice right off that the flower form is larger and less cupped than the Yeats selection of this species.

Photo inset #2 is L. auratum var. pictum as grown and photographed by Joseph Nemmer.

Lily Bulb - 'L. auratum var. platyphyllum'
Lily Bulb - 'L. auratum var. platyphyllum'

Nearly as hardy as any Oriental hybrid, Lilium auratum var. platyphyllum was instrumental in the development of the now lost 'Imperial Gold' strain and the magnificent 'Empress of India' This photo, courtesy of Ed McRae was taken by Mr. Herman Wall. I met Herman in the early 1980's by chance and it was his generous offer to "let me show you how to shoot flowers" that has led to in excess of 25,000 photos of lilies over the past 30+ years. Mr. Wall, though a professional, was never short on time to help a struggling photographer. "Thank you" Herman.

Photo inset upper left is of 'Empress of India', one of the most beautiful and magnificent hybrids of L. auratum ever developed. We flowered one bulb received in 1977 from Rex Lilies and lost it to voles the following spring. Unfortunately, Oregon Bulb Farm discontinued it the following year. This photo was graciously provided to us in 1980 by Ed McRae and graced the covers of our planting instructions for about 10 years.

Photo insert #2 upper right corner is of a very early Auratum hybrid named L. auratum x 'Pomegranate' selected from the L. auratum x 'Esperanza' strain of A. Buckley of Canada in 1947-48. Photo from the collection of Bill and Mary Hoffman.

Photo insert #3, lower left is of L. auratum 'Cupids Flame' an unregistered seedling circ. 1940. Photo from the collection of Bill and Mary Hoffman.

Lily Bulb - 'L. auratum var. virginale'
Lily Bulb - 'L. auratum var. virginale'

The unspotted or "virgin" form of Lilium auratum can be a little more temperamental in the garden. Sharp drainage is a must. Where a hybrid such as 'Casablanca' or 'Star Gazer' might do just fine, it can be too wet most years for Virginale.

Photo insert is of 'Quo Vadis' bred in Oregon by Johan Mak.

Lily Bulb - 'L. bakerianum' (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. bakerianum' (Species or Wild Lily)

A native to Burma and named for its discoverer, the English botanist John G. Baker, Lilium bakerianum has a wide distribution and is quite variable. Woodcock & Stearn's Lilies of the World groups it with at least five variants. Best suited to a cool greenhouse, in nature it has been found at elevations of 10,000 feet or more in the Himalayas where it flourishes. Bulbs rarely last more than two to three seasons under cultivation. The flowers are ivory-white to light yellow, flushed in green on the outside, and are heavily spotted in red-brown. They are pendant in form and are held on 2 to 3 foot stems. Stems can wander for two feet or more underground before emerging.

We thank Gene Mirro for his contribution of the beautiful profile and open throat photo views of this rare lily which he has flowered successfully. Decades old photo on blue background courtesy of Ed McRae, of the only stem ever to flower at the old De Graaff OBF facilities. We have never successfully flowered this rare beauty of nature and our hats are off to Gene for his success.

Photo inset #3 is from the collection of Bill and Mary Hoffman of L. bakerianum as grown by Edgar Kline. We expect the white base color is due to fading of the nearly 70 year old glass mounted slide. We include it here because of its historical importance.

Lily Bulb - 'L. bolanderi'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. bolanderi' (Species or Wild Lily)

This rare and dainty beauty is native to the upper regions of the Siskiyou mountain range of Oregon and California. Receiving as much as 100 inches of rainfall per year, the rocky rubble and red clay soil where it is found growing allows water to pass through quickly. Enjoying a more open area, we found it most commonly growing amongst 'Hairy Manzanita' on north facing slopes, protected from the late scorching summer sun. Producing up to six, but sometimes nine, brick-red spotted funnel-shaped flowers, Lilium bolanderi rarely exceeds 18 inches in height. As with most Western dry land species, Lilium bolanderi can be quite challenging in cultivation.

We found the largest colonies of Lilium bolanderi within the boundaries of the Hoopa Indian Reservation in Northern California. Within about a 3 square mile area, five Northern California species overlap. Within these colonies can be found exquisite natural hybrids of these species. Photo is of plant in natural habitat.

The first inset photo is of son Doug working his way through the 'Hairy Manzanita' climbing towards his spotted goal of a lone stem of L. bolanderi to capture it on film while keeping in mind the nest of hornets he discovered the previous day.

Photo inset #2, upper right is from the collection of Bill and Mary Hoffman of a single stem of L. bolanderi as grown by Edgar Kline. We include it here because of its historical importance.

Photo inset #3, lower left show the habitat in which L. bolanderi was found by us on the Hoopa Indian Reservation.

Photo inset #4, lower right is of a natural hybrid of L. bolanderi and L. rubescens as colonies of these two species naturally overlap in some areas. This lily carried the red coloration of L. bolanderi and the upfacing trait of L. rubescens.

Lily Bulb - 'L. brownii var. australe' (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. brownii var. australe' (Species or Wild Lily)

Found in southern China and Hong Kong, this is a tender lily. Used at Oregon Bulb Farm by lily pioneer, Jan de Graaff, where it was known to grow over 8 feet in height; this variant was considered by him to be very useful for hybridizing. Flowers are pure white inside and carry a very faint green flush on the exterior. We have never grown this sub species and thank whomever sent this photo decades ago, labeled only as Lilium brownii var. australe at Bunny's. Any "old timers" know who "Bunny" might be?

Lily Bulb - 'L. brownii'
Lily Bulb - 'L. brownii'

A difficult garden subject seemingly lost to commerce, Lilium brownii is believed to have first come to England from the islands of the Korean Archipelago, and the province of Kwanso, China in the 1830's. Lilium brownii could once be found in most turn of the 19th century English gardens.

Prone to basil rot and virus infection, even commercially produced bulbs rarely lasted more than a season or two in the garden. The large trumpet shaped, white flowers are purple-pink to brown on the outside and are carried on 3 to 4 foot stems.

A 1964 wholesale listing by Edgar Kline had this lily priced at two dollars each (about 1/2 tank of gas in those days) whereas more "common" lilies such as Lilium pumilum or Lilium pardalinum could be purchased at eighteen cents each (a gallon of gas) when purchased by the hundred. Even for the experts back then, this was a most difficult lily and was priced as such. (Photo courtesy of the late Edgar Kline)

Lily Bulb - 'L. bulbiferum var.  'umbellatum'
Lily Bulb - 'L. bulbiferum var. 'umbellatum'

Lilium bulbiferum 'Umbellatum' was a selection made in the mid 1800's in Australia. Our original stock came from Mr. Moto Shimizu of Japan in 1980. We worked with 'Umbellatum' for 5 or 6 years and though a strong grower in itself, it was not giving us any promising results in hybridizing, either as a pollen or seed parent and so was discontinued.

Lily Bulb - 'L. bulbiferum var. croceum'
Lily Bulb - 'L. bulbiferum var. croceum'

Found throughout Europe, ranging from Italy to southern France and Switzerland to the Pyrenees, Lilium bulbiferum was widely used in early hybridizing. Easily grown, Lilium bulbiferum was at one time commonly found in bulb listings coming from Europe. These large chaliced shaped, upward facing tangerine-orange flowers, spotted in black are held aloft on 3 to 4 foot stems. Enjoying full sun to partial shade, there are suitable spots in all gardens for this delightful though somewhat crude appearing flower. Photo is of the variant 'croceum' used in early breeding stock at B&D Lilies.

Photo Inset is of L. bulbiferum var. croceum as grown and photographed by Gene Mirro, June 2012.

Lily Bulb - 'L. callosum var. flaviflorum' (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. callosum var. flaviflorum' (Species or Wild Lily)

The yellow form of Lilium callosum , this dainty variant is found chiefly on the island of Okinawa. Easily grown from seed, it is not as long lived as the type. Our first seed of var. flaviflorum came from the prestigious Ofuna Botanical Garden, Japan. Years ago we were able to exchange seed of many of our North American species with Ofuna for the species of Japan. We found it easy to grow and flower in an unheated greenhouse, but to be difficult and short lived in the garden.

Our "seed exchange" program with Ofuna started by sending seed of a few of our west coast natives as a gift with a request for seed of any Japanese natives they may have available. Within weeks, a very gracious letter from director, Akio Matsuo arrived with a packet full of small envelopes of native seed, greatly exceeding in numbers what we had sent. Being thankful, we sent more seed of species not previously sent expressing thanks, and a few weeks later, even more seed came back. Next, we sent seed of the eastern US natives, a few weeks later even more seed came back.

We mentioned to a Japanese friend our exchange of seed and were feeling "guilty" that Ofuna had sent about 3 times the volume back and we had nothing new left, they had all of the US species now. She explained that "Japanese people are honor bound to return a gift with a greater gift and to now simply thank them for their generosity" which we did. She also told us stories of how when she was a little girl, the family would go up into the mountains to collect wild lilies to eat, being considered a delicacy. She would from time to time glean bulbs left in a field after harvest but when asked why she never took any of the trumpet bulbs, her reply was, "purple bulbs are bitter".

Lily Bulb - 'L. callosum'
Lily Bulb - 'L. callosum'

A late flowering species, Lilium callosum was discovered by Mr. Henry in the Tangtse gorges. Having perhaps the widest range of any the Asian species, bulbs of Lilium callosum are rarely found in commerce. An excellent candidate for well drained rock gardens, the small nickel sized brick to orange-red turk's cap flowers carry a delightful fragrance and seems to be rather resistant to virus infection. Easily grown from seed. Sorry, we have been unable to locate our close up photo, there are thousands of slides yet to go through. Shown is an old, early 1960's photo provided by Ed McRae many years ago.

Lily Bulb - 'L. canadense var. canadense 'Melted Spots''
Lily Bulb - 'L. canadense var. canadense 'Melted Spots''

L. canadense var. canadense 'Melted Spots' was a named clone from stock collected by Dr. Richard M. Adams and introduced by B&D Lilies in 1984. More gold than yellow, it was so heavily spotted that the flower center spots were all "melted" together. Again, as with 'Peaches and Pepper' this clone was dropped from production in the early 1990's. The gardening public was more interested in the variety of colors and spots found in seedling strains, giving a more wild look in the garden, than the more uniform or structured look of named clones.

Lilium canadense habitat - photo courtesy of Dr. Richard M. Adams

Lily Bulb - 'L. canadense var. coccineum'
Lily Bulb - 'L. canadense var. coccineum'

The rare brick red color form of the type, this variant grows well alongside its more common yellow flowered cousin. 'Coccineum' has always held a special spot in our heart as it was with this species we won not only our first blue ribbon at the show bench, but best in class as well.

Inset photo shows stem of Lilium canadense var. coccineum just minutes before being cut for show.

Lily Bulb - 'L. canadense var. editorium'
Lily Bulb - 'L. canadense var. editorium'

Always a favorite of visitors to our nursery in the early years was the color variant 'editorium', meaning "red". Shown here with little foil "birth control" caps over the stigma of each flower, which is a necessary process for seed production. The petals of each flower are manually pulled back hours before they would normally open and the "virgin" stigma is capped. Several days later, when the stigmatic fluid appears, necessary for pollen germination, the cap is removed and pollen from another flower applied. Each stigma is immediately capped with a new foil cap to insure no unwanted pollen contaminates the cross.

Slightly out of focus and in the background is the named variety of L. canadense var. canadense 'Peaches and Pepper', a fine peachy-orange specimen collected and cloned in a tissue culture lab by Dr. Richard M. Adams and introduced by B&D Lilies in 1984. Due to lack of commercial interest as a garden lily, 'Peaches and Pepper' was discontinued in the early 1990's.

Photo inset shows an example of the fleshy rhizome type bulb produced by L. canadense. The darker portion on the right is the portion of the bulb that sent up the current years stem. To the left is the new or “daughter” bulb that will flower in the following year. This is a continuous yearly process in the growth of this type of bulb. Not only are they getting larger with the passing of each season, but they are traveling underground as well. The bulb shown is 4 years from seed and will flower in the next season. Large, well established bulbs of L. canadense will often produce as many as 4 daughter bulbs.

Photo inset #2 is of L. canadense var. editorium being used for seed production.

Lily Bulb - 'L. canadense var. flavum'
Lily Bulb - 'L. canadense var. flavum'

The 'Canada Lily' is perhaps one of the most beloved and popular of the Eastern North American species. Also known as the 'Meadow Lily' it is commonly found at the edges of open meadows in damp, acidic, well drained soils. In the garden Lilium canadense appreciates generous additions of leaf mold or peat moss to the soil. Producing yellow, Turk's Cap flowers with varying amounts of spots, Lilium canadense adds grace and charm to the garden that no modern hybrid can match. This species lily can take from four to six years to flower from seed and another three to four years to reach a commercial size. Shown is the variant 'flavum', the best known of the species.

Photo inset is of a very finely grown stem of L. canadense provided by William Holden.

Lily Bulb - 'L. candidum'
Lily Bulb - 'L. candidum'

Probably the most loved and sought after Lilium species, early Christian art often used Lilium candidum , the Madonna Lily, as a symbol of the Virgin Mother and her purity. Even now, it is still widely used as a symbol of chastity and innocence. It is believed that ancient Egyptians not only cultivated Lilium candidum for its beauty, but highly regarded it as a medicinal necessity. So widely spread and loved by the early 1800's, Lilium candidum was used in a cross with Lilium chalcedonicum , a native of Greece producing the first recorded hybrid Lilium x 'Testaceum' which is found in commerce still today nearly 200 years later.

The dazzling, pure white, outfacing flowers have bright yellow pollen and heavy fragrance, very similar to that of honeysuckle. Contrary to other lily species, they require shallow planting with only a scant inch of soil above the bulb and an alkaline soil. Their habit of producing a rosette of leaves during the late fall and winter months does not allow easy weed control on a commercial basis. With most bulbs now coming from Israel, many have unfortunately been dug in the wild to satisfy commercial demand and the failure rate is exceptionally high. We understand from customers that bulbs recently purchased as Lilium candidum have turned out to be nothing more than a spotless outfacing white Asiatic hybrid.

Very long lived and most famous is the 'Cascade Strain' developed by Jan DeGraaff and released in 1948. It can still be seen in many older cottage gardens a half century later. Fairly easy to grow from seed.

Photo inset #1 is an early photo of our daughter Anne Marie inspecting a stand of L. x 'Testaceum'.

Photo inset #2 came from the Bill & Marry Hoffman collection of photographs from Edgar Kline. This photo is nearly 70 years old.

Lily Bulb - 'L. catesbaei'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - '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.

Lily Bulb - 'L. cernuum bed'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. cernuum bed' (Species or Wild Lily)

Our first flowering of Lilium cernuum was in a cool greenhouse in the early 1980's. The seed was sown in six inch deep planting boxes in a product called 'Sunshine #4' potting mix. Within days, germination took place and we marveled at the speed in which the new plants developed. The next spring most had one or two flowers and the following spring was a stand of magnificent, sweetly fragrant flowers.

Lily Bulb - 'L. cernuum var. candidum'   (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. cernuum var. candidum' (Species or Wild Lily)

Found only in the Diamond Mountain area of Korea, this rare beauty has basically the same requirements for sharp drainage as does its pink flowering cousin. If conditions are perfect, it will flourish, if not, bulb rot is quickly forthcoming. We have not grown or flowered this color variant but do have a line on some nursery grown bulbs for the future.

Lily Bulb - 'L. cernuum'   (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. cernuum' (Species or Wild Lily)

Requiring well drained, sandy soils, flowering Lilium cernuum from seed is a rewarding challenge. Though highly prone to basil rot and virus infection, this beautiful species from Northeast China and Korea certainly has a home in the well prepared rock garden. With rather small, lilac-pink, Turk's Cap flowers, Lilium cernuum usually reaches a height of about 24 inches and was used by Jan de Graaff to produce his lovely 'Harlequin Hybrids' introduced in 1950. We have always found it to be a lovely addition to the garden, but never sow all your seed in any given season, always leave enough in the freezer for those inevitable years of crop failure giving yourself the option to start over.

Lily Bulb - 'L. chalcedonicum'   (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. chalcedonicum' (Species or Wild Lily)

Prized for its red color, this Grecian native is generally found in humus rich, stony limestone soils and lightly shaded areas, but prone to virus and botrytis attacks in the garden. Seed should be sown in an area where undisturbed growth can be maintained, as this species highly resents being moved, and is probably the main reason it is rarely seen in commerce. The addition of lime to the soil of western gardens is a must. We have never had the pleasure of flowering this species ourselves. Photo courtesy of Dr. Fritz Ewald.

The flowers of Lilium chalcedonicum are Turk's Cap in form and are a lovely shade of rich red. Crossed with Lilium candidum to produce the hybrid Lilium x 'Testaceum'. The inset photo of L. x 'Testaceum' was unmarked as to source, but we believe was provided by Ed McRae some 20 plus years ago. Lilium chalcedonicum was used by Jan de Graaff to produces a number of seedlings, but none seem to have been ever released, but if so, must have not persisted in the garden.

Lily Bulb - 'L. ciliatum'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. ciliatum' (Species or Wild Lily)

Native to NE Turkey, this species a few years back was being marketed by a Dutch company as Lilium monadelphum . Exported directly from Holland as "nursery grown" bulbs, they more than likely were collected in the wild with Lilium monadelphum, which shares its native range. Found in alkaline soils, these semi-pendant flowers are a soft butter yellow with deep purple throats. Distinguished from Lilium monadelphum by fine hairs produced on the leaves as well as the buds, Lilium ciliatum carries a sweet 'Trillium' like fragrance.

Lily Bulb - 'L. columbianum'
Lily Bulb - 'L. columbianum'

Though classified as "dry land species", we found one area in N. California where plants littered the edges of a stream bed with most bulbs covered by running water. This stream though getting smaller with the passing of each day in July still covered most of the bulbs we found. By late August or early September, these lilies would have been on "dry land" once again indicating that the seed was dropped there during a period of low water and had to germinate to get a root hold before the winter rains and the swelling of the creek flow.

Inset photo is of another plant growing up over the edge of a river boulder. It was not possible to climb down without ropes to know for sure, but it seemed as if this bulb also was totally covered with flowing water.

Lily Bulb - 'L. columbianum'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. columbianum' (Species or Wild Lily)

Lilium columbianum resides in some of the most scenic areas of the world. Tucked in behind the "Hairy Manzanita", here they enjoy the beauty and serenity of a sub-alpine lake. Inset photo is of single stem tucked also into native Azalea.

Lily Bulb - 'L. columbianum' (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. columbianum' (Species or Wild Lily)

With the widest range of the Western North American species, Lilium columbianum can be found from Northern California to British Columbia. Some of the most spectacular colonies of this dry land native can be found along the Redwood Highway in Northern California. A nearly impossible subject in the garden, it is best to simply enjoy it in its native realm. Though classified as "dry Land", we found one area in N. California where plants littered the edges of a stream bed with most bulbs covered by running water.

Inset is of photo taken of colony of Lilium columbianum found along the Coastal Redwood Highway SR101 in Northern California. There are numerous stands of Lilium columbianum that were bypassed in the mid 90's with a new, and much straighter highway that went over the mountain rather than around it, hugging the Pacific Coast. Before the bypass, stopping on this busy road was to risk life and limb. It is narrow and the big rigs traveling that desolate area had drivers that only knew "petal to the metal".

Photo inset #2 is of a flower found off hwy 101 south of Eureka showing exceptionally large spots with a solid brown/maroon center where all the spots ran together to make one big "blotch" of color. This particular stem produced flowers of a deeper golden-orange color than others found in the same stand.

Photo inset #3 is of a stem of L. columbianum as flowered and photographed by Gene Mirro in June of 2012.

Lily Bulb - 'L. concolor var. coridion'   (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. concolor var. coridion' (Species or Wild Lily)

The yellow and even more lovely form, this variant is also short lived, but is easily grown from seed. As with the type, it is well suited to the rock garden. We have always taken pleasure in flowering this species and are very careful in making sure seed is collected for a future planting.

Lily Bulb - 'L. concolor'
Lily Bulb - 'L. concolor'

From central and south China, and to a lesser extent Japan, the small upright unspotted flowers of Lilium concolor are brilliant orange-scarlet in color. Though usually short lived in the garden, it readily sets seed that germinate rapidly. Best suited to the well drained rock garden, sow seed yearly to insure continued bloom, but always hold some back in the freezer just in case. This wild lily likes to be kept just barely moist, resents being wet, and responds to overwatering by simply rotting.

Photo inset is of an unnamed selection from L. concolor x L. pumilum

Lily Bulb - 'L. dauricum var. alpinum'
Lily Bulb - 'L. dauricum var. alpinum'

A very short growing variant of Lilium dauricum is 'alpinum' that reaches only 6 to 8 inches in height. With a flower far too large in proportion to its stem and leaf development, it looks awkward in the garden. Enjoys the same conditions as its more familiar "big" brother. Grown from seed provided by renowned botanist, Mr. Moto Shimizu of Japan.

Photo inset is of a selection made from a cross of L. dauricum var. alpinum with by Len Marshall.

Lily Bulb - 'L. dauricum'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. dauricum' (Species or Wild Lily)

With a wide range throughout Asia, Korea, and Japan, Lilium dauricum was used extensively in early hybridizing both in the US and Europe. An easy subject in the garden, it enjoys a well drained and slightly acidic soil. Used by de Graaff in his 'Mid Century Hybrids', the spotted up-facing, orange to orange-scarlet flowers are believed to have been used in Japan 300 or more years ago in hybridizing. It is possible that this species has offered more to today's Asiatic hybrids than any other of the Asian species. The many variants of this lily, ranging even through Eastern Russia, may well hold untold future breeding potential.

Photo inset is of 'L. dauricum var. wadi' as photographed by Edgar Kline and from the photo collection of Bill and Mary Hoffman. The 'Var. wadi' were bulbs collected on one of the Northern Islands of Japan and were offered by Hakoneya Nurseries in Yokohama, Japan in 1935 and believed to have consisted of more than one clone.

Lily Bulb - 'L. davidii unicolor'
Lily Bulb - 'L. davidii unicolor'

A weak growing form of the type, it rarely reaches 3 feet tall in the garden. The pendant flowers are lightly spotted in red. We never had much luck with this wild lily, just keeping it alive was a monumental task. Very susceptible to virus, we have never personally brought it to flower. This photo was taken of a bulb flowered by the late Don Egger at Cebeco Lilies in 2000.

Photo inset is of a bulb of L. davidii. It produces a "rock hard" bulb that feels very waxy to the touch.

Lily Bulb - 'L. davidii var. willmottiae'
Lily Bulb - 'L. davidii var. willmottiae'

Our favorite of the Lilium davidii group, 'willmottiae' has a much more elegant flower with graceful arching stems. Having a tendency to wander underground for some distance before emerging, the underground portions of the stems readily produce bulblets at each internode. A native to the western Hupeh province of China, it naturally grows at higher elevations. Shown growing in a cool greenhouse.

Photo inset is of the Asiatic Hybrid 'Embarrassment' bred in Canada by R. Simonet. 'Embarrassment' is a grandaughter of L. davidii var. willmottiae

Lily Bulb - 'L. davidii'   (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. davidii' (Species or Wild Lily)

Used a great deal in early hybridizing, this native of the mountainous regions of Western China is well suited to the garden. As with Lilium dauricum , traces of Lilium davidii "blood" can be found in just about every modern day hybrid. This pendant-shaped, vermilion to scarlet colored flower is peppered in black spots. Seed production is abundant and easy to grow. This is a tall species reaching four feet or more in the garden. This species was also instrumental in producing de Graaff's famous 'Fiesta Hybrids'

Photo inset #1 is Lilium davidii being "visited" by one of our native Swallowtail butterflies (Papilio rutulus). As with most of the orange and red Lilium species, butterflies love them, and seem to be more attracted to the wild flowers than the hybrids, possibly because of the reflexed flower form.

Photo inset #2 of of L. davidii var. 'Oriole' from the collection of photos provided by the daughter of Bill and Mary Hoffman. L. davidii var. Oriole was registered by Isabelle Preston in 1935 as being an open pollinated seedling of L. davidii. This "studio" photo, typical of how Edgar photographed his lilies is circa. 1947 - 48.

Insert #3 is a Edgar Kline studio photo of L. davidii var. maximowiczii.

Insert #4 is a Edgar Kline studio photo labeled as L. davidii var. wadi which we assume was collected and named by K. Wada and distributed by Hakoneya Nurseries, Yokohama, Japan as were other species with the name 'Wadi' attached to them.

Lily Bulb - 'L. distichum'   (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. distichum' (Species or Wild Lily)

Difficult to cultivate, Lilium distichum is a native of Manchuria and Korea being found in forests on gently sloping hills. It closely resembles Lilium medeoloides and is often confused with it. Not a heavy bloomer, the out-to-slightly pendant flowers are orange-red in color with dark spotting and are held aloft on 2 to 3 foot stems. Being a woodland species, it likes moisture and shade. Photo courtesy of Dr. Fritz Ewald.

Lily Bulb - 'L. duchartrei'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. duchartrei' (Species or Wild Lily)

This alpine Chinese, found sometimes at more than 10,000 feet, likes damp to boggy ground and is happy in woodland margins. In cultivation it seems to prefer a lighter soil (Sunshine Blend #4) that is uniformly damp throughout the active growth period. Produces a stoloniferous type bulb similar to L. canadense or L. superbum. It is best grown from seed as bulbs of Lilium duchartrei very much dislike being moved even from one end of the garden to the other.

This photo was taken from a bulb purchased in the early 80's from Bert Porter in Canada. Labeled as L. duchartrei' Eddie McRae felt it may actually be L. talense but was unsure.

Photo inset is of one of the historically important Edgar Kline photos taken in the late 40's as provided by Bill and Mary Hoffman. Labeled as L. duchartrai var. fargesii, this was the old identification of L. duchartrei in the early 1900's. Both L. duchartrai and L. fargessi are separate and distinct species. Photo shown is of L. duchartrei.

Lily Bulb - 'L. fargesii'   (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. fargesii' (Species or Wild Lily)

As we have not grown or flowered L. fargesii, we are indebted to Rimmer de Vries for the photo used here and for the information he offered in a recent article published by the Royal Horticultural Society.

Lilium fargesii is a woodland-edge native of central China and was named for Guillaume Farges a 19th century French plant explorer in China. Rimmer reported this was a small stature species growing to only about 14 inches in a pot with open blooms about the size of a quarter. He grows L. fargesii in a soiless mix of 2 parts Sunshine LFT, 1 part perlite, 1 part coarse vermiculite and 1 part Turface which is a fired clay and uses rain water with a diluted mixture of 20-20-20 for occasional feeding. Thank you Rimmer for your contribution.

Lily Bulb - 'L. formosanum var. pricei'   (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. formosanum var. pricei' (Species or Wild Lily)

This is a dwarf, high mountain form of the type. Rarely exceeding 2 feet, our experience has been that it is better suited to the rock garden and our NW climate. It must have excellent drainage especially during the cold, rainy months.

Lily Bulb - 'L. formosanum'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. formosanum' (Species or Wild Lily)

As its name would indicate, this is a native of Formosa where it is found growing among the bamboos in volcanic, sandstone soils. Found at elevations up to 10,000 feet, this species is highly susceptible to virus and was often used as a test plant to detect virus infection in the early years of hybridizing. The procedure was to scratch and wound the stem of a plant suspected of virus with a soft brass brush, and then scratching the stem of Lilium formosanum to see if it would become infected. The long, narrow funnel flowers are white, with pink on the outer mid-rib. Short lived, it sets seed freely and will often bloom in the cool greenhouse, as shown here, within twelve months of being sown.

Photo inset was labeled by Edgar Kline as L. formosanum "Early Form" indicating that he was going both this and a later flowering variety. This photo from the late 1940's was provided by Bill and Mary Hoffman.

Lily Bulb - 'L. grayi'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. grayi' (Species or Wild Lily)

Named after American botanist Asa Gray, this native of N. Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia produces smooth, funnel shaped flowers. The deep, brick red blooms are strongly spotted in red-purple. The rhizomatous bulbs can be difficult in cultivation, but given the right location with plenty of moisture during the growing season and a soil rich in humus, it will settle in quite nicely. Rarely seen in commerce our best stock came from a tissue cultured selection named 'Gulliver's Thimble' cloned by Dr. Richard M. Adams in 1981 and introduced to the garden trade by B & D Lilies in 1984 as shown in photo inset #3.

Title photo of L. grayi compliments of Gene Mirro as flowered and photographed in June of 2012.

Photo inset #1 is of Lilium grayi habitat. Photo courtesy of Dr. Richard M. Adams. Second photo insert of L. grayi courtesy of Gene Mirro showing both the profile as well as throat of this lovely little species.

Lily Bulb - 'L. hansonii'   (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. hansonii' (Species or Wild Lily)

An easily grown and adaptable species though rarely seen in commerce, Lilium hansonii is found in Korea and Japan where it is known as "Gakeshima-Yuri". Used by Jan de Graaff in hybridizing with Lilium martagon , it contributed to the beautiful 'Paisley Hybrids' being born. Lilium martagon x 'Dalhansonii', another striking hybrid was produced from a cross with Lilium martagon var. cattaniae.

Probably the most famous cross though with Lilium hansonii and Lilium martagon is 'Mrs. R. O. Backhouse' which still is offered from time to time, more than 80 years after its introduction. All hybrids with Lilium martagon carry the unfortunate trait of requiring a year or more to recover after being moved in the garden as does purebred Lilium martagon.

Preferring a damp soil rich in leaf-mold and dappled shade, Lilium hansonii produces thick, fleshy flowers in a rich orange color. As with Lilium martagon , this is a very virus resistant species and should be grown more in the garden. We have grown this species for over 20 years but rarely have seen it bloom. Beloved by the native deer population, they bring in their fawns for a nibble just as the buds are starting to show color every year. Photo of Lilium hansonii Courtesy of Dr. Fritz Ewald.

Photo inset #1 is closeup of stem of 'Mrs. R. O. Backhouse'

Photo inset #2 is a studio arrangement of stems grown by Edgar Kline around 1950 as provided by Bill and Mary Hoffman.

Photo insert #3 is of L. hansonii as flowered and photographed by Gene Mirro in June of 2012.

Lily Bulb - 'L. harrisianum'   (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. harrisianum' (Species or Wild Lily)

Also known as Lilium pardalinum var. giganteum, this California native has been offered over the years as 'Sunset Lily' and 'Red Giant'. Found along the Van-Duzen River on the edges of heavy thicket, these scarlet red, and Turk's cap flowers are heavily spotted in their yellow centers. To do well in cultivation, it requires a well drained, humus rich soil and a site where the bulb can be shaded with the flowers raising up to the sun. We thought our cuts, scrapes, and bruises would never heal from tracking this lily along the Van-Duzen. Growing in the gravel river bed, Lilium harrisianum has flowing water covering its bulbs during the rainy season.

Lily Bulb - 'L. henryi var. citrinum'   (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. henryi var. citrinum' (Species or Wild Lily)

The rare and beautiful yellow color form of Lilium henryi has not been often seen in commerce. Though quite beautiful, and easily grown, its main drawback is a weak stem, long droopy pedicels and a need for staking. For this reason, commercial breeders held little interest, which probably accounts for it not being as commonly offered in catalogs as its orange counterpart. When left undisturbed, bulbs in excess of 25 inches in circumference and three to five pounds are not unusual, with stems exceeding 8 feet.

Lilium henryi citrinum likes a well drained, fertile garden loam and full sun. We have put Lilium henryi citrinum back into field production and will again list it in the future.

Photo inserts #1 and #2 are of L. henryi var. citrinum 'Ypsilanti' as provided by Charlie Kroell and Rimmer De Vries.

Photo insert #3 is an example of L. henryi var. citrinum as grown by Edgar Cline in the late 1940. Photo from Bill & Mary Hoffman.

Lily Bulb - 'L. henryi variants'   (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. henryi variants' (Species or Wild Lily)

Lilium Henryi can be quite variable in appearance. Shown are four flowers selected from the same seed cross of L. henryi x L. henryi, and coming all from the same pod.

Inset photo is of a new L. henryi x Oriental seedling. Considering that each “generation” when making hybrid crosses can be 4 to 5 years, to go from the flower colors and forms of L. henryi you see in the opening photo to this L. henryi hybrid selection can and usually does represent a human life span. When you see a new hybrid listed at $59.95 or more, consider the fact that the breeder could have 40 or more years of his/her life invested in that one lily alone. Broken down to $1.50 per year, for the breeder, that bulb is a real bargain.

Lily Bulb - 'L. henryi'
Lily Bulb - 'L. henryi'

From the mountains of China, the rich, recurved, orange colored flowers are held in a pendant form. Thriving in cultivation, it seems to prefer the garden to its former homeland, growing equally well in light shade or full sun. When left undisturbed, bulbs will often exceed 12 to 14 inches in circumference and nearly two pounds in weight producing stems upwards of 6 feet with 35 or more flowers.

Photo inset is from a photo provided by Ed McRae years ago that has always been one of our favorites. On one of Ed's visits back in the mid 80's to our farm, he was so impressed with the genetic differences he found in our seed grown stock, that he collected pollen for use at Oregon Bulb Farm, where he was head breeder. Lilium henryi pollen, placed on Chinese Trumpet species produced 'Aurelian' hybrid selections, such as 'White Henryi'. Though very resistant to botrytis (fungus), you will notice upon close inspection of leaves in the inset photo, they are blue from copper spray. In the lily breeding greenhouses, because of reduced air circulation, fungicides are often applied as a precautionary routine.

Photo inset #2 is of a lovely yellow toned L. henryi x L. auratum cross made by the late Don Egger.

Lily Bulb - 'L. humboldtii' (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. humboldtii' (Species or Wild Lily)

Native to the Sierra Nevada range of central California, this dry land lily can be found in lightly shaded areas of open pine woodland margins at high elevations. A tall species, often reaching 6 feet, it produces highly variable Turk's Cap flowers about the size of a baseball. It is not uncommon to find a colony of 100 or more stems, all with flowers differing from their neighbors.

The orange-brown flowers are covered with quite large, purple-red spots. Probably the most famous colony of Lilium humboldtii is growing in a town cemetery. A difficult lily to cultivate, it will challenge even the most patient gardener. "Cemetery" photo courtesy of Orrel Ballantyne.

Photo inset #1 is of a single stem, standing alone in the same cemetery as photographed by Orrel Ballantyne.

Photo insert #2 is the hybrid 'Sacajawea' a hybrid of (L. humboldtii var. ocellatum x L. pardalinum). Bred by Dr. David Griffiths at the old USDA breeding facilities near Bellingham, Washington where the Bellis Fair Mall now is located, it was released in 1933. Flowered and photographed by Edgar Kline, this photo was provided by Bill and Mary Hoffman.

Photo insert #3 is 'Star of Oregon' (L. humboldtii x L. pardalinum) also from the work of Dr. David Griffiths and is shown here as flowered by Edgar Kline. Also from the Bill and Mary Hoffman collection.

Lily Bulb - 'L. iridollae'
Lily Bulb - 'L. iridollae'

Native to the peaty meadows of southern Alabama and north-western Florida, this is a very difficult lily to cultivate but still easier than Lilium catesbaei . The striking, golden-yellow flowers are pendant in form and are heavily spotted. We offered Lilium iridollae in the past as bulblets from tissue culture, giving the greatest chance of success but took it out of propagation as the failure rate by customers was in excess of 80%. This species should be attempted by only the most experienced and patient of gardeners. Inset photo is of Lilium iridollae habitat. Both the close up and habitat photos are courtesy of Dr. Richard M. Adams.

Lily Bulb - 'L. japonicum'   (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. japonicum' (Species or Wild Lily)

In its native Japan, it is known as "Sasa-Yuri" or the Bamboo Lily. Difficult to cultivate, it is highly susceptible to virus infection as well as Fusarium and is therefore short lived outside its native habitat. The bell-shaped flowers perch atop 2 to 3 foot stems and are light pink to white in color. Most notable cross by Jan DeGraaff with Lilium japonicum at Oregon Bulb Farm produced 'Pink Glory', a strain of pinks that bears a strong resemblance to Lilium japonicum . We regret that we have never unlocked the secrets of success with this rare and beautiful lily. L. japonicum photo courtesy of Ed McRae.

Photo insert #1 is of Lilium japonicum hybrid, 'Pink Glory' photographed in the mid 1990's in the B&D Lilies production field. 'Pink Glory' is no longer in production.

Photo insert #2 is of a bed of L. japonicum as grown by Edgar Kline in the late 1940's. This historic photo of early lily cultivation was provided by Bill and Mary Hoffman.

Photo insert #3 shows L. japonicum var. platyphyllum photographed in the late 1940's of selections by Edgar Kline as provided by Bill and Mary Hoffman. L. japonicum var. platyphyllum had the distinction of having wider leaves than the type.

Lily Bulb - 'L. kelleyanum'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. kelleyanum' (Species or Wild Lily)

Named for the San Francisco naturalist Lynwood Kelley, L. kelleyanum is a native to the California Sierra Nevada's growing in damp but well drained locations. Similar in cultivation to L. pardalinum, stems can reach as much as 7 feet with 50 or more blooms. L. kelleyanum was known in that past as L. nevadense as well as L. pardalinum var. nevadense.

This July bloomer is not difficult to grow (if you can obtain seed), the bulbs must remain moist while the foliage is kept dry in an acidic loam mixture with plenty of humus. Enjoys some light pm shade.

We thank Joseph Nemmer for his contribution of his photo of L. kelleyanum as flowered in 2006.

Lily Bulb - 'L. kelloggii var. 'Edgar Kline'
Lily Bulb - 'L. kelloggii var. 'Edgar Kline'

This is a rare, pure white color form found in a single colony of Lilium kelloggii off Highway 199 in Northern California that varies from pure white to the more familiar pink. The white (or albino) form seemed to all produce unusually large anthers, as can be seen in the photo.

Discovered by Mr. Edgar Kline, the location of this colony is a closely guarded secret to protect it from plant collectors. Thinking about looking for it? Hwy 199 stretches from Grants Pass, Oregon to Crescent City, California and the fire road leading to its location is not for the faint of heart!

If your vehicle does not have river crossing clearance or will not turn around in a width of less than 8 feet, or have "D8" stenciled on it, plan on backing down a loose gravel road approximately six miles, parts of which are so steep that your vehicle will not stop, but just continues to slide down the hill with gravel acting as marbles under your tires. Should you try to attempt it, don't take your wife, even Dianna refused to go saying "you go on, I will stay here and take my chances with the snakes".

We received the photo in inset #1 from Gene Mirro in June of 2012 and it truly made our day in knowing this rare little lily was being grown in the garden. When we viewed the colony in the mid 80's, the flowers were in full bloom and there were no seed pods. We never returned to that colony not wanting to taunt serious injury or even death. Thank you Gene for your diligence in growing this wonder of nature.

Lily Bulb - 'L. kelloggii'
Lily Bulb - 'L. kelloggii'

A very fragrant and delightful Northern California native, Lilium kelloggii is a heavy bloomer in its natural setting. The spotted, Turk's Cap flowers are light pink with a golden band in the center of the petals. The reverse of each petal is a darker shading of pink. A dry land lily, it is difficult in cultivation and best left for Mother Nature to grow. We had given up on a seed tray after the second spring and set it out on the "dump" pile. The following year when the tray was to be recycled for another planting of seed, there were hundreds of little Lilium kelloggii seedlings. Our conclusion was that they had not frozen hard enough their first winter. The close up photo of Lilium kelloggii is one of the flowers produced four years after that germination.

Jan de Graaff used Lilium kelloggii extensively in breeding, and one of the finest of these hybrids is 'Robin'. One of our overall favorites, we once "discovered" a magnificent colony of Lilium kelloggii behind the post office in a small Northern California community. The postmaster, needless to say, was very possessive of that little stand of lilies.

Photo inset is close up of 'Robin', a Division 4 (West Coast Native) hybrid.

Lily Bulb - 'L. kesselringianum'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. kesselringianum' (Species or Wild Lily)

Native to the Caucasus, and Turkey in areas near the Black Sea, the Turk's Cap, straw colored flowers of this species are spotted in cinnamon. Little is known about Lilium kesselringianum as it seems to never have been introduced into commerce nor have we attempted to grow it. Photo courtesy of Dr. Fritz Ewald.

Lily Bulb - 'L. lancifolium'  Syn: L tigrinum   (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. lancifolium' Syn: L tigrinum (Species or Wild Lily)

Oni-Yuri, the Japanese ‘Tiger Lily’ was common place in the Victorian gardens of old. Not as readily available now from commercial sources as it is a host plant to many diseases and is thus avoided by nurseries working with much more delicate species.

The pendant, orange-red flowers carry numerous brown to black spots. Producing many black-brown axial bulbils, they are fully ripe and have already begun producing roots before dropping to the ground in the late fall. Easily grown, they rarely need to be lifted and divided. It is not recommended to grown Lilium tigrinum if you are growing any other species as aphids will pass along numerous virus infections from Lilium tigrinum to your other plants. This is a “Typhoid Mary” in the garden. Susceptible also are all other plants growing from a bulb or tuberous root.

Lily Bulb - 'L. lancifolium' var. Flore Pleno  Syn: L. tigrinum
Lily Bulb - 'L. lancifolium' var. Flore Pleno Syn: L. tigrinum

Found to be grotesque in the eyes of most gardeners, this species will never command "ooh's and aah's from viewers.

The semi-pendant, double orange-red flowers carry numerous brown to black spots. Producing many black-brown axial bulbils, they are fully ripe and have already begun producing roots before dropping to the ground in the late fall. Easily grown, they rarely need to be lifted and divided. It is not recommended to grown and of the Lilium lancifolium/tigrinum if you are growing any other species as aphids will pass along numerous virus infections from them to your other plants. As with the single flower form, this is a “Typhoid Mary” in the garden. Susceptible also are all other plants growing from a bulb or tuberous root.

Photo courtesy of Riz Reyes.

Lily Bulb - 'L. lankongense'
Lily Bulb - 'L. lankongense'

One of the many beautiful Turk's Cap species native to the mountains of China, Lilium lankongense has been found to heights of 10,000 feet. Cultivation is relatively easy given the right conditions. Preferring uniformly damp soils and light shade, care must also be taken to protect it from virus infection to which it is susceptible. The flowers are a lovely shade of delicate pink with rose-pink spotting and carry a light scent. Simply, Lilium lankongense is one of the most lovely of all the species.

Photo inset is of our daughter standing in a sea of the L. lankongense hybrid 'Ariadne'. 'Ariadne' was bred by Dr. Christopher North of the UK and introduced in 1976.

Lily Bulb - 'L. ledebourii' (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. ledebourii' (Species or Wild Lily)

A native of the Talysh Mountains in Azerbaijan, L. ledebourii is found from about 3000 to 5000 feet in elevation in oak forests and clearings. Cultivation is similar to the other Caucasian lilies such as L. monadelphum succeeding in a variety of well drained soils with light shade throughout the day. This lily has been described as having a “surprisingly delicate fragrance reminiscent of vanilla”.

Ed McRae grew this species at the old Oregon Bulb Farms in the early 1970's from seed provided by V. Erimin of Russia. It has been reported to cross with L. candidim, better known as the 'The Madonna Lily'. Given the political tension between Azerbaijan and Iran where this lily is also found, further exploration of the area for other yet to be found species is not likely.

This beautiful and rare lily was grown and photographed by Alan Mitchell of Scotland and we thank Alan for his contribution of this outstanding example of this rare and beautiful species.

Lily Bulb - 'L. leichtlinii maximowiczii unicolor'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. leichtlinii maximowiczii unicolor' (Species or Wild Lily)

Perhaps the most beautiful and the most resistant to virus infection of the 'leichtlinii' group is the Edgar Kline clone, 'unicolor'. We don't know if this was an unspotted seedling selected from seed grown 'var. maximowiczii' or from wild collected stock as there is little information. Used extensively in breeding at the old Oregon Bulb Farm, 'var. unicolor' was instrumental in producing the first of the "brush mark" type lilies.

Lily Bulb - 'L. leichtlinii var. maximowiczii'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. leichtlinii var. maximowiczii' (Species or Wild Lily)

This orange color variant of Lilium leichtlinii enjoys a greater range in nature than its yellow cousin. Extending into Korea and Manchuria, it is considered easier in cultivation than the type. The Turk's Cap brilliant orange flowers are heavily spotted in purple-brown. An unspotted variant once grown and offered by the late Edgar Kline is known as ' Lilium leichtlinii maximowiczii unicolor. "Unicolor" meaning without spots.

Our photo insert is compliments of Gene Mirro of a full stem he flowered in June of 2012.

Lily Bulb - 'L. Leichtlinii'
Lily Bulb - 'L. Leichtlinii'

Named after Max Leichtlin, this Japanese native has several very interesting variants. Rarely offered in commerce, the pendant flowers are lemon-yellow and carry many red-purple spots. Reaching a mature height of 3 feet, it can be and often is difficult in the garden if drainage conditions are not to its liking. A late bloomer, it requires a light, but deep, well drained soil that is rich in humus.

Photo insert is of a golden yellow form of L. leichtlinii being worked with in Holland.

Lily Bulb - 'L. leucanthum var. centifolium'   (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. leucanthum var. centifolium' (Species or Wild Lily)

One of the most highly prized Chinese trumpets, this species has played a major role in producing today's trumpet hybrids, being used by Jan de Graaff in his famous, 'Black Dragon' and other trumpets known worldwide. In actuality, 'Black Dragon' is simply Lilium leucanthum centifolium, with the De Graaff selection 'M-12' being used as the seed parent for this strain. This species can reach heights exceeding 8 feet. Flowers are off-white on the inside and carry varying amounts of pink-purple to brown on the reverse of the petals. It requires well drained soils and some protection from winter rains in mild climates. It can be slow to settle in, especially during cool springs.

Lily Bulb - 'L. lijiangense'
Lily Bulb - 'L. lijiangense'

L. lijiangense is a native of China and has been reported by photo contributors and successful growers Gene Mirro and Rimmer de Vries as being much like L. henryi once established. Large photo courtesy of Gene. More information will be added concerning L. lijiangense in the near future.

Photo inset #1 is of a close up of L. lijiangense as flowered and photographed by Rimmer.

Photo inset #1 was submitted by Gene Mirro of a "clump" of L. lijiangense as flowered and photographed in June of 2012.

Lily Bulb - 'L. longiflorum'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. longiflorum' (Species or Wild Lily)

The most recognized of all lilies, its selected variants are grown by the millions each year. Better known as the 'Easter Lily', Lilium longiflorum originally called home the southern Islands of Japan. Fields of Lilium longiflorum can be found growing in production within a narrow belt stretching from Brookings, Oregon to Smith River, California overlooking the Pacific Ocean. In nature, this species grows about 3 feet tall. Normally flowering in July and August in the garden, the easiest way to obtain bulbs is potted lilies forced for Easter bloom, which can be planted into any well drained garden loam after the bloom is finished. Locate in full sun to light dappled afternoon shade for continued enjoyment for years to come. Once in the garden though, they will revert to their normal blooming time which is not during Easter. Lilium longiflorum is in the breeding background of the scented Asiatic hybrids, also know as LA or Longiflorum-Asiatics.

We offered the selected, named clones of 'Ace' and 'Nellie White' for about 10 years, but finally gave up because of yearly complaints of "my Easter Lily did not bloom for Easter". It is a lovely addition to any garden, but look for flowers in late July to early August.

Lily Bulb - 'L. mackliniae'   (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. mackliniae' (Species or Wild Lily)

It is said that Mr. Kingdom Ward discovered this rare beauty in 1946 while searching for missing aircraft in Burma. Found at altitudes of 7000 feet or more, the flowers of Lilium mackliniae are bell-shaped and held in a pendant form. It grows well in cultivation especially if planted in a bed of good draining peat and light shade. It enjoys the same conditions as azaleas and rhododendrons and seems to like their company in the garden. Lilium mackliniae likes our cool, damp climate here in the Pacific Northwest.

Our photo inset is of a stem of L. mackliniae as grown by Edgar Kline and photographed in the late 1940's. Though faded with time, we found this photo to be enchanting with its delicate beauty. Provided by Bill and Mary Hoffman, this is an excellent example of flower form.

Lily Bulb - 'L. maculatum var. flavum'   (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. maculatum var. flavum' (Species or Wild Lily)

The first notation of the yellow color variant of L. maculatum comes from notes taken at Oregon Bulb Farms. Bulbs of L. maculatum var. flavum were discovered among bulbs of L. auratum var. platyphyllum according to breeder Edward McRae. He reported that this variety was also grown from many years as ‘Marilynn Ross’.

David Stone and Henryi Payne used this color variant heavily in their breeding program in Piedmont, CT. From it came ‘Nutmegger’ and our favorite, ‘Yellow Blaze’ shown in the inset. A very strong grower that is extremely disease resistant. Our first crop of this lovely species was from seed provided by the Ofuna Botanical Garden.

Lily Bulb - 'L. maculatum'
Lily Bulb - 'L. maculatum'

Its status as a species is sometimes disputed and has, at times, been lumped in with species such as Lilium dauricum . The Ofuna Botanical Garden has regarded it as a species and being a Japanese native lily, they should know best. Ofuna was our first source of seed for this wonderful lily.

Found growing in the beach grasses of the northern islands of Japan, this species is noted for its extremely heavy root system, required to anchor it against winter storms. The flowers are rather open and are a lovely shade of apricot orange with a tinge of pink. A strong grower in the garden, it is spotted in purple-black. The most notable variant of this species is the yellow form, Lilium maculatum flavum , which we feel is even lovelier than the type.

Photo inset is of one of our unnamed hybrid selections from L. maculatum.

Lily Bulb - 'L. majoense' Syn: L. primulinum var. ochraceum
Lily Bulb - 'L. majoense' Syn: L. primulinum var. ochraceum

We have not personally grown this rather new introduction from China. Our photos and cultural information have been provided by our friend Rizanino (Riz) Reyes.

From Western China, this late June / early July bloomer like a rich, moist, but well drained soil. A cousin of L. primulinum var. burmanicum which is reported to be winter hardy in England with protection, L. majoense may handle a zone 6 with heavy mulch.

Riz reports that it has done well with some competition from neighboring Western Red Cedar. Flowers are funnel shaped and down facing, pale green to creamy white with a large purple central blotch resembling L. nepalense. As it sets viable seed readily, this species could soon be more commonly seen in commerce.

Photos courtesy of Riz Reyes

Lily Bulb - 'L. maritimum'
Lily Bulb - 'L. maritimum'

Rare in nature and even rarer in cultivation because of its near impossible requirements, this lily is native to the coastal areas of Northern California. Found sometimes just above the high tide mark, it grows in sandstone soils that usually flood sometime during the year. The pendant, bell shaped flowers are orange-red in color, blending to yellow and finally green at the top. Photo shown was taken in the native habitat of L. maritimum.

Lightly scented, this species is "protected" by California as being endangered, but we know of one instance where a group of college students risked being jailed, helping their botany professor save a colony from a housing development. They tried to get permits to move the colony by legal means and were denied, and so went in under cover of dark, just days ahead of the heavy equipment and moved everything to a similar, but more remote location. From what we understand, that colony was still thriving some 20 years later. Seeing these lovely little flowers in the wild invokes memories never to be forgotten.

Photo inset #1 is of 'Lilium maritimum' habitat.

Photo inset #2 was donated by Gene Mirro of his L. maritimum in bloom, June of 2012. Thank you Gene.

Lily Bulb - 'L. martagon album'    (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. martagon album' (Species or Wild Lily)

The pure white form of this long lived species, the flowers are often a little larger and the plant overall being a little more vigorous than the type. At home in any well drained garden loam, it also appreciates some lime added to the soil each year. As with the type, it can suffer from botrytis and should be sprayed occasionally with a good fungicide recommended for roses.

Large photo is of small landscape bed on our farm using an old maple stump for protection from high winds.

Photo inset #1 is close up of flower.

Photo inset #2 is of a propagation bed at the old Oregon Bulb Farm circa. 1960 that was provided us by Eddie McRae many years ago.

Lily Bulb - 'L. martagon var. cattaniae' (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. martagon var. cattaniae' (Species or Wild Lily)

One of the most beautiful as well as darkest flowers, deep maroon, our photo example here was courtesy of Dr. Fritz Ewald. Reported to be more vigorous than the "type" or pink form, we have never tried this species and so can not report personally. Should a reader of this have a better photo representing the true beauty of this variant, please feel free to submit along with your experiences with this species.

The photo inset is of a beautifully grown stem of L. martagon provided by Gene Mirro. We don't know if this is a species or a hybrid. Gene reported it came to him in a packet of seed marked L. mackliniae.

Lily Bulb - 'L. martagon'
Lily Bulb - 'L. martagon'

The best known of the European natives, Lilium martagon and its variants have the greatest range of any species. Preferring calcareous soils, Lilium martagon can find a home in every garden provided some lime is added yearly to the soil. Not liking to be disturbed, it will often refuse to send up a stem the first season after being moved. The Turk's Cap flowers are small, but as many as 50 or more can appear on the 4 foot stem of a mature, settled bulb. Carrying a light "wild flower" scent, they do well in shade as well as full sun, of which the latter tends to keep stems from reaching their full potential.

Photo inset is 'Lilium martagon' being visited by one of our native Swallowtail butterflies.

Lily Bulb - 'L. medeoloides' (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. medeoloides' (Species or Wild Lily)

Known as "Kuruma-Yuri" in its native Japan, legend holds that this alpine species which grows in volcanic soils is the favorite flower of the ‘Goddess of Mount Fuji’. Often a difficult garden subject, the waxy orange, black spotted flowers of Lilium medeoloides are only about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. A planting site rich in leaf-mold on top of gravel with winter protection and semi-shaded conditions are a must to successfully grow it. Seen here in flower in a cool greenhouse, grown from seed provided by the Ofuna Botanical Garden, Japan.

Photo insert is of "wild" L. medeolodies as photographed by Mr. Moto Shimizu of the Northern Japanese type and contributed to B & D Lilies.

Lily Bulb - 'L. michauxii'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. michauxii' (Species or Wild Lily)

Found growing in southern Virgina, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Northern Florida and known as ‘The Carolina Lily’, L michauxii likes a well drained, dryer ground. It has proven difficult to keep in our Pacific Northwest climate. Unusual for a species in that it is a stem rooter and insists on a lime-free growing medium. It has a stoloniferous bulb and stems usually top out at about 3 feet. Friends in the deep south say “it is a weed” but L michauxii has proven to be a challenge for us.

Lily Bulb - 'L. michiganense'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. michiganense' (Species or Wild Lily)

With a wide range from Oklahoma to Southern Ontario, the 'Michigan Lily' is closely related to Lilium canadense and Lilium superbum . The pendant flowers are orange-red in color and are heavily spotted in brown. It will cross with other Eastern North American Species, but nothing has ever been commercially introduced. Requiring well drained soils, we found it to be easier to cultivate than the West Coast dry land types.

Insets #1 and #2 are of Edgar Kline studio shots. #1 was labeled L. michiganese, Friemann which we were particularly pleased to find as LeVern was a close and dear friend. #2 was labeled L. michaganese, Palmer referring to R. C. Palmer of Summerland, British Columbia, Canada. Both slides were taken in the late 1940's and give indication to the variance in the appearance of flowers.

Lily Bulb - 'L. monadelphum' (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. monadelphum' (Species or Wild Lily)

Found growing in the black leaf-molds of beech wood in the northern Caucasus, Lilium monadelphum is the most plentiful and easiest to grow of the lilies from this region. First finding its way into English gardens in the early 1800's, it can be difficult when not catered to. When given deep, well drained soils to which lime is added yearly, it will settle in and be quite at home. Disliking being moved, Lilium monadelphum can often take two years after planting to send up a stem, patience is a must. When its first bell-shaped flowers open though, most agree, the wait was well worth it. Flowers are straw to butter yellow and are heavily spotted in purple. When happy with its placement, Lilium monadelphum will make huge bulbs weighing several pounds.

Lily Bulb - 'L. nanum'(Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. nanum'(Species or Wild Lily)

Nanum, meaning dwarf, this is a very small alpine lily growing only 6 to 12 inches, Lilium nanum is found distributed through the Himalayas. Taxonomists classified this lilium species as a 'nomocharis' for many years. The bell-shaped pink-to-lilac flowers have purple spots. Found in cultivation for over 100 years, bulbs are rarely seen available. It highly dislikes being moved and is best started from seed planted where they can just be left alone. Often takes 5 or more years to flower. (Photo taken by Edward McRae at Keillour Castle in Scotland.)

Lily Bulb - 'L. neilgherrense'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. neilgherrense' (Species or Wild Lily)

Found further south than any other species, a native to India, the flowers of Lilium nielgherrense are very narrow, flaring finally at the end of their trumpet shape. Best suited to a cool greenhouse, planting in the open garden nearly always meets with failure. The stems of this species run underground for some distance before emerging. We have never attempted this species. Old Oregon Bulb Farm stock photo courtesy of Ed McRae.

Photo inset #1 is from the Bill & Mary Hoffman collection of species grown and photographed by Edgar Kline.

Lily Bulb - 'L. nepalense'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. nepalense' (Species or Wild Lily)

Considered one of the most beautiful of species, Lilium nepalense produces large, pea-green, open trumpet shaped blooms that are richly colored in royal purple in the throats. Best suited to the cool greenhouse, it likes its leaf mold planting medium to be kept moist through the spring and until it comes into flower. After flowering, pots should be turned on their sides to insure they not become over watered, allowing the soil to dry or they will rot. Watering should begin again in the spring to simulate spring snow melt in its natural environment.

The stem likes to run underground for some distance before emerging. We have had bulbs in 8 inch pots where the stems made more than a dozen laps around the inside of the pot before finally emerging. A stem coming out of a drain hole is not uncommon.

Our photo inset is of the sub species 'rubustum' as identified and grown by Edgar Kline in the late 1940's. Photo from the Bill & Mary Hoffman collection. Unfortunately with old, glass mounted slides, the yellows and greens are the first to fade.

Lily Bulb - 'L. nevadense'
Lily Bulb - 'L. nevadense'

Native to the Sierra Nevada from the Mt. Shasta area of California up into Oregon, it prefers damp soils on the edges of meadows. It can also be found along the edges of streams and rivers in areas that are not saturated, but never seem to dry out. Rarely exceeding 3 feet, most stems are closer to 2 to 2.5 feet. Flowers are strongly recurved with orange-yellow spotted centers and red tips. Red color intensifies with age.

Inset photo is of stem growing up through the native azalea with flowers just beginning to deepen into their red color.

Lily Bulb - 'L. nobilissimum'   (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. nobilissimum' (Species or Wild Lily)

"Tamoto-Yuri" from the Japanese Ryukyu Islands produces very fragrant, funnel shaped flowers that are purest white on the inside with green shading on the outside. Difficult to view in the wild as it mainly grows on steep cliffs, it is also difficult to maintain in the garden. Once often confused with Lilium alexandrae , Lilium nobilissimum produces bright yellow pollen. This species has produced some extraordinary hybrids, most notably, the pure white 'Taj Mahal', and the baby pink 'Maharaja'. Though considered about the same in difficulity as Lilium Rubellum, flowered here without problems, we have been unsuccessful with Lilium nobilissimum. L. nobilissimum photo courtesy of Ed McRae.

Photo inset #1 is of a soft pink hybrid of L. nobilissimum selected in 2003 from breeding work done by the late Don Egger.

Photo inset #2 is of the selection 'Maharajah' bred at the old Oregon Bulb Farms registered as hybridized in 1964 but not introduced until 1981 which was common as you did not want to release the genes of an important new line until after you were a couple generations down the road in your breeding program. 'Maharajah' came out of 'Pink Glory' shown as an inset with L. japonicum.

Photo inset #3 shows this magnificent species as grown in the lath/shade house of Edgar Kline in the late 1940's. Photo courtesy of Bill and Mary Hoffman.

Lily Bulb - 'L. occidentale'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. occidentale' (Species or Wild Lily)

One of the rarest of the Oregon/California border natives, Lilium occidentale can be found growing in dry sphagnum bogs. Its small, Turk's Cap flowers are orange-red blending to yellow-green centers. The spots on these lightly scented flowers are brown black. Very difficult in the garden, successful growers have found that it produces much larger flowers under cultivation than it does in its native landscape. Photo inset is of Lilium occidentale hybrid.

Once while photographing this rare species in a bog near the Oregon-California border, we were buzzed several times by a DEA plane looking for pot growers until we stood up pointing to our now highly held aloft cameras. The pilot on his next past gave us a wing wave and proceeded south continuing his patrol. Lesson learned? If you are going to grow pot in a dry bog in Northern California, carry a camera large enough to be seen from the air.

Photo inset #1 is of a specimen grown from seed and on display at a nursery near us.

Photo inset #2 is of another flower from the same S. Oregon colony as our lead off photo.

Lily Bulb - 'L. ocellatum' (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. ocellatum' (Species or Wild Lily)

Native to Southern California, Lilium ocellatum is often confused with Lilium humboldtii growing further north. The pendant flowers held atop the 6 foot stems of this species are cadmium-orange with red tips and are covered in large, spots. A dry land type, it is quite difficult to cultivate and has never been attempted by us. This is one of those species that is best left to be view in the wild. Photos courtesy of Orrel Ballantyne.

Lily Bulb - 'L. papilliferum' (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. papilliferum' (Species or Wild Lily)

Found growing in the limestone soils of the mountainous Yunnan, Lilium papilliferum is as uniquely colored as it is difficult to cultivate. The small, dark purple, reflexed flowers are borne atop 2 foot stems. On one of many visits to the old Oregon Bulb Farm, we were greeted by an almost giddy Ed McRae who could not wait to show us this single bloom. The timing of our arrival was perfect as this flower was in its prime. As can be seen on close inspection, Ed had pollinated his prize with its own pollen, hoping it would self fertile. This was the only bloom for the season.

Lily Bulb - 'L. pardalinum'
Lily Bulb - 'L. pardalinum'

The 'California Panther Lily', is among the easiest to grow of the Western U.S. natives. The "wild scented" Turk's Cap flowers are orange-red in color and often have red tips. The nectary furrows are green on these black spotted flowers. Considered a small flowered version of Lilium harrisianum, it requires a damp, lime free soil with full sun. Lilium pardalinum played an important role in the development of the 'Bellingham Hybrids' by Dr. David Griffiths at the old USDA research station in Bellingham, Washington. The Bellis Fair Shopping Center currently occupies the site of the old research station.

Photo inset was taken in the late 60's and is of the Griffith Bellingham Hybrid 'Shuksan'. We found 'Shuksan' to be a real animal in the garden, far more easily cultivated than either L. pardalinum or L. humboldtii, the parents. 'Shuksan' was introduced in 1924.

Lily Bulb - 'L. parryi'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. parryi' (Species or Wild Lily)

Considered by many to be the most beautiful of the American species, Lilium parryi calls the mountains of Southern California and Arizona home. The California 'Lemon Lily' is quite difficult in cultivation. The flowers are yellow in color and lightly spotted in brown. Well drained soil and protection from winter rains is a must to be successful, but in nature, there was a colony about 90 miles from Los Angeles growing in a meadow with numerous springs continually spilling water over the base of the plants with no apparant harm. Used by Jan de Graaff at Oregon Bulb Farm, Lilium parryi was instrumental in the development of the 'San Gabriel Strain'.

Inset photo #1 is a hybrid of Lilium parryi showing red throat bred by the late Don Egger.

Photo insert #2 is of L. paryii as flowered and photographed by species knowledge base site contributor Gene Mirro.

Photo insert #3 is the hybrid 'Peter Puget' (L. parryi x L. pardalinum) bred by Dr. David Griffiths at the former USDA breeding and experimentation facility that was near Bellingham Washington. 'Peter Puget' was released in 1933. Photographed by Edgar Kline, photo from the collection of Bill and Mary Hoffman.

Lily Bulb - 'L. parvum'
Lily Bulb - 'L. parvum'

An alpine native of the Sierra Nevada and Oregon Cascades, the small, semi-erect flowers of Lilium parvum can be found in yellow, orange, or red depending on elevation. Provided it receives a well drained garden site, with damp, sandy soils, it will grow quite well. A very similar flower found in ditches in the Eldorado National Forest carries a unique pink coloration. Debate goes on as to its status of being a true species or a hybrid between Lilium parvum and Lilium kelloggii .

Insert photo Lilium parvum var 'Eldoradense' or as it is commonly called, "The Ditch Lily".

Lily Bulb - 'L. philadelphicum' (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. philadelphicum' (Species or Wild Lily)

With a wide range throughout southern Canada, the Midwest and as far south as New Mexico, the 'Wood Lily' is found growing near deciduous trees in free draining sandy loam. Difficult in the garden, winter protection from rain is required to succeed. The upright flowers vary greatly in color but are generally orange to red with black spotted yellow centers. This has been one of the most challenging lilies we have attempted in the species garden. Photo shown is of our first ever bloom.

Lily Bulb - 'L. philippinense'
Lily Bulb - 'L. philippinense'

From the island of Luzon in the Philippines, it is closely related to Lilium formosanum and Lilium longiflorum. The long, funnel shaped, fragrant trumpet flowers are white and slightly tinted in green at the base. Short lived as it is susceptible to virus and not winter hardy, seed will flower in 18 months. It prefers a light, well drained soil and being that it is found in coralline limestone, would appreciate some lime added yearly to the soil. Seed often appears on seed lists.

Photo insert is of seed bed 8 months after planting. Most had single blooms 3 and 4 months later.

Lily Bulb - 'L. pitkinense' (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. pitkinense' (Species or Wild Lily)

Named for Sarah Ann Pitkin, owner of the property this lily was discovered on in 1952. Once carrying “species” status, it is more than likely a hybrid population as both in the Pitkin Marsh and in the cool greenhouse, they show a great deal of variation in height, flower color and size, as well as period of bloom. This photo was taken of a plant grown from seed collected in the Pitkin Marsh. L. pitkinense proved to be quite easy to grow in the cool greenhouse. We have not tried it in a garden setting.

Lily Bulb - 'L. pomponium'   (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. pomponium' (Species or Wild Lily)

This European native can be found growing in the French Alps on steep south facing slopes in dry, limestone crags. The flowers are Turk's Cap in form and are a rich red lead color, marked with small, black spots. It can be cultivated as long as its needs for a well drained, heavy limy soil are met, but it is difficult. Be ready for numerous setbacks, this is a trial and error lily.

Photo inset #1 is of a well grown stem with our native 'Oregon Grape' (Mahonia aquifolium) in the background.

Photo inset #2 is of a small "stand" photographed and contributed by Dr. Fritz Ewald.

Photo inset #3 is of a deeper red form of L. pomponium as flowered and photographed by Gene Mirro in June of 2012.

Lily Bulb - 'L. ponticum' - Species or Wild Lily
Lily Bulb - 'L. ponticum' - Species or Wild Lily

This native of Turkey and the Kasbek area of Georgia, and also known as L. georgicum, plant explorers have confused this beautiful rarity with L. monadelphum and L. szovitsianum also found in this general area. While Ed McRae felt that L. ponticum was a subspecies of L. pyrenaicum just like L. albanicum, other references differ giving L. ponticum its own status as a species unto itself.

Found on rocky slopes in nature that are chalky, it has been reported to not be particularly difficult in more acidic soils. Successful crosses with L. pyrenaicum and L. szovitsianum were made by Dr. Christopher North of Scotland using embryo culture.

Our thanks for Alan Mitchell of Scotland for this photo and a well deserved pat on the back for his success in flowering L. ponticum.

Lily Bulb - 'L. primulinum var. burmaniacum' (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. primulinum var. burmaniacum' (Species or Wild Lily)

From Tibet, and Burma, the pendant, primrose yellow flowers of this rare beauty are richly colored in a royal purple. If seed can be obtained, it should be grown in a sheltered spot or a cool greenhouse. As with so many of the native lilies, drainage is a must. It is reported that de Graaff succeeded in crossing Lilium primulinum with some of his best trumpets, but there are no recorded introductions from those crosses. We look forward to the day we can locate verifiable seed of this species and give it a try. Old Oregon Bulb Farm stock photo courtesy of Ed McRae

Lily Bulb - 'L. primulinum var. ochraceum'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. primulinum var. ochraceum' (Species or Wild Lily)

This photo taken by Boyd Kline between 1947 and 1950 is the only photo we have ever seen. Labeled simply as 'L. ochraceum' resulted in a great deal of time figuring out exactly what this lily was. 'L. ochraceum' back in the "old days" was the name this lily came under, but it was later classified as L. primulinum var. ochraceum.

Smaller and not as a dramatic appearing lily as L. primulinum var. burmanicum, found in upper Burma, this form was found not only in rocky ravines of SE Yunnan as also in open grass meadows at elevations up to about 8000 feet.

This historic old photo of an extremely rare species from Bill and Mary Hoffman as flowered by Edgar Kline in the late 1940's.

Lily Bulb - 'L. pumilum 'Yellow Bunting' (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. pumilum 'Yellow Bunting' (Species or Wild Lily)

Thought at one time to be the result of a cross with Lilium martagon album, the yellow form of Lilium pumilum is now regarded as a species. The small, fragrant flowers are bright, canary yellow and are generally unspotted. It is self fertile and as with its more familiar cousin, flowers in 18 months from germination. This is the lily of choice for our native Swallowtail Butterflies.

Lily Bulb - 'L. pumilum'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. pumilum' (Species or Wild Lily)

Quite possibly the easiest of all Lilium species to grow, Lilium pumilum is well suited to a site in the rock garden. The small, highly fragrant Turk's Cap flowers are scarlet red in color and are usually without spots. Occasionally a few small flecks of black will appear in the flower throats. Having a wide range throughout China, Korea, and even into Siberia. Lilium pumilum sets seed freely, but allowing it to do so also seems to shorten its life span. Unless you have a good stand of them going, remove all but one seed pod from each plant. As is with Lilium Regale, Lilium Pumilum is apomictic meaning it will produce viable seed without polination. It doesn't matter what pollen may be used on Lilium pumilum, it will produce seed genetically identical to the partent plant.

Seed will flower in 18 months following germination. Excellent in the butterfly garden, both they and little girls love it.

Photo inset #1 is a close up of one of these highly fragrant flower.

Photo inset #2 shows one of the propagation beds.

Photo inset #3 show L. pumilum in a garden setting among Foxgloves (digitalis purpurea).

Lily Bulb - 'L. pyrenaicum var. rubrum'
Lily Bulb - 'L. pyrenaicum var. rubrum'

Found in the Burgos region of Spain, many consider this form even more easily cultivated than the type though we must say they are about the same. The brown spotted, pendant blooms have orange-red flowers that are also unpleasant to smell.

Photo inset is of both type and rubrum together in our cool greenhouse.

Lily Bulb - 'L. pyrenaicum' (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. pyrenaicum' (Species or Wild Lily)

From the Pyrenees from which it gains its name, the lovely, golden flowers carry a rather unpleasant scent. Occasionally showing a few black specks on the flower face, Lilium pyrenaicum seems to grow well in heavier loam soils that drain well. It is the earliest of the European natives to flower each year, usually bursting into bloom in late May in the Pacific Northwest. Generally felt to be easy to cultivate we have always had great success in the cool greenhouse.

Lily Bulb - 'L. regale album'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. regale album' (Species or Wild Lily)

Selected out from cultivated stock of Lilium regale, the variant album has an absence of the pink-purple coloration on the outside of the flowers found in the type. Varying amounts of yellow appear in the throats of these highly fragrant flowers. Plants also tend to be much shorter than the type and do not carry quite as many flowers.

Photo inset of a bed of L. regale album and L. leucanthum var. centifolium late 1940's at the Edgar Kline nursery. Photo from the Bill & Mary Hoffman collection.

Lily Bulb - 'L. regale'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. regale' (Species or Wild Lily)

From China, Lilium regale is at home in any well drained garden. The large, flaring trumpet shaped blooms are highly fragrant. A varying amount of pink-purple shades the outside of these golden throated flowers. Reaching heights to 8 feet for old plants, but more commonly seen in the 3 to 5 foot range, Lilium regale has been a favorite of gardeners for many years. In breeding work, Lilium regale as a pollen parent has been excellent, but as a seed parent, it tends to be apomictic, proving to be dominant in all characteristics. In other words, all you get is seed of more Lilium regale, no matter what pollen is used on it.

Photo inset #1 shows one of our most popular offerings from Lilium regale has been 'Horn of Plenty' a sport selected by us from seed grown stock of Lilium regale by the late Don Egger.

Photo inset #2 is one is of a propagation bed of L. regale, July 2006.

Lily Bulb - 'L. rosthornii'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. rosthornii' (Species or Wild Lily)

We have not personally grown this rather new introduction from China. Our photos and cultural information have been provided by our friend Rizanino (Riz) Reyes.

From Western China, this is a late August / early September here in the Pacific Northwest. Bulbs like a rich, moist, but well drained planting site. The blooms are strongly recurved and down facing. Color is a deep cantaloupe orange usually with green but sometimes black nectarines. The late Ed McRae was working with this species towards producing his “black heart” Aurelian hybrids. Often confused with L. henryi, L. rosthornii has extremely long filaments. Riz reports that it has a light "gentle" fragrance.

Photos contributed by Riz Reyes.

Lily Bulb - 'L. rubellum'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. rubellum' (Species or Wild Lily)

The alpine 'Maiden Lily' of Japan. Known as "Otome-Yuri", the flaring, open trumpet type flowers are a clear and delicate pink rarely seen even in today's "modern" hybrids. Purebred bulbs of Lilium rubellum are not easy to cultivate and requires a very acidic soil that is well drained. Being an alpine lily that is covered with snow, it must be protected from winter rains in the garden. Best suited to a cool greenhouse we still remember the day our first blooms of Lilium rubellum opened from seed that was given us by the Ofuna Botanical Garden. This lily produces the cleanest, most pure color of pink you will ever see.

Photo inset #1 is of a bed of L. rubellum as grown by Edgar Kline in his Oregon nursery. Photo provided by Bill and Mary Hoffman.

Photo inset #2 shows L. rubellum as grown and photographed by Gene Mirro.

Lily Bulb - 'L. rubescens'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. rubescens' (Species or Wild Lily)

This lovely, upfacing flower can be found growing north of San Francisco in the redwood belt and into the central regions of the Hoopa Indian Reservation. The flowers first open pure white with small purple spots. As they age, the flower color deepens finally to overall light lavender similar as to what a trillium does.

A dry land species, this sweetly scented lily can be quite difficult to cultivate. The accompanying photo shows a stem of Lilium rubescens that was found growing at a 90' angel in a hillside and then turned upwards towards the sun. Since the beginnings of B &D Lilies, we have taken in excess of 20,000 photos of lilies and this is by far, my all-time favorite.

After a strenuous climb to reach this colony, here was a stem of Lilium rubescens that was nothing but pure beauty and perfection. Its condition was perfect, a day earlier, there would not have been nearly as much pink, a day later, the first flower would have started to wither. Every pollen grain was in place, it had never even been touched by an insect. Only God could have made something this beautiful.

[This was a moment in time that I knew God had created this flower just for me, as He did the beautiful wife who a decade earlier had given herself to me in marriage. This was the experience of sitting in the audience more than 20 years later of a daughter, not yet born when this photo was taken, watching others wiping tears from their eyes, being moved so deeply by the sound of her exquisite classical voice. This single stem was, without doubt, a bouquet from God, fashioned from the beauty of my wife and nurtured with the tears of overwhelming emotion.]

Lily Bulb - 'L. sargentiae'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. sargentiae' (Species or Wild Lily)

This native of Szechwan in Western China grows up to about 5000 feet in elevation. Unlike L. regale, also from this general area, L. sargentiae will not tolerate lime in the soil and is very prone to boyrytis attacks making it a very difficult subject in growing areas such as ours in the Pacific Northwest.

Known to be one of the parents along with L. henryi of Debra's L. x aureliense, we will be uploading a photo of L. x aureliense, one of the hybrids that "started it all" when we get fully into the 'Trumpet / Aurelian Knowledge Base. We were gleeful in finding an example of the Debras hybrid in the Hoffman collection of slides donated by their daughter. In breeding, L. sargentiae has proved to be far more valuable than L. regale.

Having never grown or flowered this particular species we are very grateful to Alan Mitchell of Scotland for his contribution to the Species Knowledge Base not only for the title photo but also for photo insets #1 and #2 showing first the production of stem bulbils as well as lovely open throat shot of this lily.

Photo insert #3 is of an example of L. sargentiae as flowered and photographed by Boyd Cline in the late 1940's, from the photo collection of Bill & Mary Hoffman.

Lily Bulb - 'L. shastense'    (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. shastense' (Species or Wild Lily)

(Also known as Lilium kelleyanum var. shastense) This is another of our favorite species and memories of the first time we viewed Lilium shastense in the early 1980's will always remain with us. The bog in which these photographs were shot was located within the city limits of the town of Mt. Shasta alongside a railroad yard. Though protected by California law, this bog was filled in by the railroad with rock. As with Lilium maritimum, in the name of progress, permits could be had to destroy these natural wonders, but none were available to move and save the same plants. The lightly fragrant, Turk's Cap flowers of Lilium shastense are orange-red in color with black spotted golden-yellow centers. Growing in nature to over 8 feet, this is a difficult garden subject requiring a muck-peat soil that is moist nearly year around. A soaker hose left to a slow drip works well with this lily.

(Wife, Dianna is 5 feet, 5 inches in height. Though she is slowly sinking into the bog in this photo, this image showed the "average" height for this now-lost colony.)

Photo insets 1 and 2 are close ups of two of the flowers found in the Mt. Shasta colony.

Lily Bulb - 'L. speciosum rubrum 'Uchida''  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. speciosum rubrum 'Uchida'' (Species or Wild Lily)

A select form of Lilium speciosum rubrum, the named variety 'Uchida' is probably the one most commonly found now in commerce. Protected by Hirotaka Uchida and his eldest son Machao during the war years, they had been ordered by the Imperial Japanese Government to destroy their ornamental plant farm and to grow potatoes for the army. They defied those orders and kept bulbs of 'Uchida' hidden throughout the war years. 'Uchida' was awarded a gold medal at the 1963 Internationalle Gartenbau Ausstellung in Hamburg, Germany, as they say, the rest is history.

Inset #1 is of another Lilium speciosum selection named 'Cinderella' selected and named by F. H. Wilson circa. 1950.

Insert #2 of of L. rubrum "type" which is most commonly found in commerce.

Insert #3 is of L. speciosum rubrum var. Magnificum which received an Award of Merit in 1903 from the Royal Horticultural Society. This Edgar Kline photo was provided by Bill and Mary Hoffman.

Insert #4 is of L. speciosum rubrum var. "Melpomene' raised and named originally by C. M. Hovey of Boston, MA in 1884. This photo is from Edgar Kline as provided by Bill and Mary Hoffman.

Insert #5 is of a Boyd Kline flowered form of L. speciosum rubrum var. punctatum. We believe this was first introduced in the late 1800's. Photo from Bill and Mary Hoffman.

Lily Bulb - 'L. speciosum rubrum'
Lily Bulb - 'L. speciosum rubrum'

(The clone known as 'Rubrum #10' is pictured.) An easily grown Japanese native, there have been many variants and selections introduced to commerce over the years. A late season bloomer, the flowers are light to medium pink, are fragrant, and generally spotted. As with most hybrid lilies, a well drained garden site with some humus added to the soil will be found to its liking. It was pollen from a fine selection of Lilium speciosum rubrum being grown at the USDA research station in Beltsville, Maryland that gave the breeding breakthrough producing the world renowned Imperial Hybrids of Jan de Graaff. Also of great significance is the pure white hybrid 'Allegra' bred at Beltsville.

Inset photo is of Lilium speciosum var. 'Wing Dancer', a selection of the late Leslie Woodriff.

Lily Bulb - 'L. speciosum var. album'
Lily Bulb - 'L. speciosum var. album'

This variant of Lilium speciosum is beyond compare. Lightly fragrant, the pure white flowers are truly angelic in color and form. Light green nectary furrows grace the exceptionally beautiful form of these semi-pendant blooms. Flowering in late August in the Northwest, Lilium speciosum album is used by most gardeners to end the blooming season in the garden.

Photo inset #1 is a late 50's early 60's vintage photo of Mr. Photo Inset #1 F. M. Wilson in a field of his L. speciosum rubrum selection 'Lucy Wilson' near Puyallup, Washington. Photo provided by the late John Schaver, founder of Rex Lilies. Mr. Wilson also made the speciosum selections of 'Cinderella', and 'Grand Commander'. John Shaver once related to us his admiration for Mr. Wilson and the fact he "grew boxcar loads of his rubrums".

Photo Inset #2, very early Kline photo from Bill & Mary Hoffman of L. speciosum 'Album Novum', named by G. B. Mallet of the UK in 1901. This late 1940's photo may be the only visual example of this lily left.

Photo Insert #3 is of L. speciosum album 'Kraetzeri' as flowered, arranged, and photographed by Edgar Kline. Photo from Bill & Mary Hoffman.

Lily Bulb - 'L. speciosum var. gloriosoides (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. speciosum var. gloriosoides (Species or Wild Lily)

Described by the English explorer E. H. Wilson to be the "finest and most beautiful of all forms of L. speciosum", the var. gloriosoides can be a pill in the garden. Our experience with this lily was that it was very prone to virus and the only flower we were able to produce from seed given us by Moto Shimizu in Japan bloomed twisted and deformed, probably due to virus infection. The plant did not return the following year nor any of the other seedlings in that batch possibly due to virus infection, but more likely due to our sometimes excessively wet winters here in the Northwest corner of Washington.

To successfully grow and flower this magnificent species is a prideful accomplishment. Originally discovered in 1868 in the Lushan Mountains of China, 'glorsoides' was introduced to European gardens in 1878, but that original stock was soon lost. A hearty well done to Alan Mitchell of Scotland for flowering this rare lily and our thanks for his contribution of this photo.

Photo insert is of L. speciosum x 'Cinderella' registered as a "selection" of L. speciosum by F. M. Wilson c. 1950. We grew 'Cinderella' in the early 1980's and found it to be prone to virus and always wondered if there might be a bit of 'gloriosoides' in its background. We will ever know.

Lily Bulb - 'L. sulphureum'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. sulphureum' (Species or Wild Lily)

This wonderful species was named for the soft yellow tones sometime found in its flowers in the most southerly portion of their range (Burma). In nature it is found on grassy slopes, in open woodlands as well as in gravelly loams on roadsides. This species was grown by our good friend, the late LeVern Freimann in Bellingham, Washington just a bit north east of us and he related on one visit it was instrumental in his development what went on to become 'Golden Splendor' following the purchase of his breeding stock by Jan de Graaff.

Photo courtesy of Joseph Nemmer who has successfully grown and flowered L. sulphureum.

Lily Bulb - 'L. superbum var. Mississippi'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. superbum var. Mississippi' (Species or Wild Lily)

From seed collected in Mississippi and sent to us back in the mid 1980's, the flowers of this extremely southern colony appeared softer and more "blended" in color than their more familar northern cousins. We found it not to be as hardy as the more northern plants and it suffered from single digit winter temperatures.

Lily Bulb - 'L. superbum'    (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. superbum' (Species or Wild Lily)

Found in the eastern U.S. bulbs of Lilium superbum are reported as having being exported to London as early as 1738. Known as the 'American Swamp Lily' superbum enjoys a rich soil that is kept most throughout the year. The Turk's Cap flowers vary in color from golden-orange to nearly solid red. Carried atop stems sometimes reaching 8 feet, when left undisturbed bulbs will often exceed 1/2 pound.

This landscape photo, here at the nursery with our daughter peaking through the stems when a young teenager, has always been a favorite. This stand, exceeding 100 plants, was even studied by graduate students sent from the University of North Carolina, their task, to take samples and identify the one natural Tetraploid in the group found by their professor two years earlier from leaf samples he collected during a visit. Grown from seed collected throughout its entire range, it was felt this one colony had the greatest genetic diversification of any single stand in the world. When this bed was lifted due to overcrowding, some bulbs exceeded 3 pounds in weight.

Photo insert #1 is of the strongest lily in the stand (the tetrapolid), reaching just over 8 feet with over 40 blossoms.

Photo insert #2 is of a cloned selection from this stand named 'Scarlett O' Hara', the propagation bed of which was lost in its first year of scaling to marauding voles looking for nourishment that winter.

Lily Bulb - 'L. szovitsianum'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. szovitsianum' (Species or Wild Lily)

Native to wooded clearing and subalpine zones of Transcaucasia and the southern shores of the Black Sea, Lilium szovitsianum is equally at home in the garden when provided with its needs as is Lilium monadelphum . Carrying a strong fragrance, these pendant flowers are straw yellow in color and occasionally have a few spots. Requiring a well drained but heavy soil, they dislike being moved. We have never grown or flowered this species but expect it to be no more difficult than Lilium monadelphum. Title photo as well as photo insert #1 courtesy of Dr. Fritz Ewald.

Photo inset #2 was flowered by Boyd Kline in the late 1940's and labeled as L. szovitsianum wilmottis, named in honor of the notable English plant collector Ellen Willmott. Photo provided by Bill & Mary Hoffman.

Lily Bulb - 'L. taliense var. kaichen'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. taliense var. kaichen' (Species or Wild Lily)

Another unusual and lovely variant of Lilium talense, these were grown from seed obtained by Ed McRae from the Edinburgh Botanic Garden that had been collected in the Chinese province of Yunnan. We took this photo during a visit to Lava Rock Nursery where Ed had at one time maintained a rather large and extensive collection of Lilium species.

Lily Bulb - 'L. taliense'
Lily Bulb - 'L. taliense'

A difficult but striking alpine native of China, the Turk's Cap flowers of Lilium taliense vary from snow white with just a few purple spots to nearly black in heavily spotted specimens. Grown in abundance by Jan de Graaff and part of the parentage of his old 'Harlequin Hybrids' selected from his famous "Midcentury" lines. Though found in limestone soils in nature, it has grown well in neutral as well as slightly acidic soils.

Photo inset is of an exceptionally heavily spotted and highly distorted flower of Lilium taliense, grown by Ed McRae while at Oregon Bulb Farm.

Lily Bulb - 'L. tsingtauense' (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. tsingtauense' (Species or Wild Lily)

An unique Martagon type lily, Lilium tsingtauense holds is waxy "sun-kissed" orange, star-shaped flowers fairly upright atop 3 foot stems. Carrying a light but unpleasant scent, bulbs of this species rarely show up in commerce. It is best grown in areas of light shade with soil being kept on the damp side.

Lily Bulb - 'L. vollmeri'
Lily Bulb - 'L. vollmeri'

From northern California and southern Oregon, this species is often seen growing along drainage ditches. One easily found colony is near O'Brien, Oregon off Highway 199 is shown in the larger photo. Note the wild dasies growing in with the bulbs of Lilium vollmeri indicating the high moisture content of the soil. The brightly colored Turk's Cap flowers vary in color from nearly solid yellow to golden-red. Most commonly they are medium orange with black spots and yellow centers. More difficult than Lilium pardalinum which it resembles, a deep and damp, but free draining soil is necessary for success in the garden. We have found this lily in ditches containing standing water that were more robust than those growing in better drained soils.

Inset photo is of one of many plants grown in a cool greenhouse.

Lily Bulb - 'L. wardii'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. wardii' (Species or Wild Lily)

This native of Tibet is found at elevations to 10,000 feet among thickets and conifers. A taller alpine type reaching over 4 feet, the flowers are Turk's Cap in form and quite fragrant. Carrying upwards of 40 flowers, they are deep and heavily spotted in carmine. Requiring light shade and a well drained loam soil with generous amounts of leaf mold added, it will grow, though not well. This beauty likes to run underground for 2 to 3 feet before emerging. On the plus side though, it produces little bulblets all along the underground portion of the stem.

Lily Bulb - 'L. washingtonianum'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. washingtonianum' (Species or Wild Lily)

Named for Martha Washington, not for the State of Washington, Lilium washingtonianum and its variants enjoy a wide range. Found as far north as Mt. Hood, Oregon where locals call it the "Mount Hood Lily", but can be found far south as Yosemite. The pure white, trumpet-shaped flowers carry varying amounts of purple spots. As with Lilium rubescens, these blooms deepen in color with age to lavender. Near impossible to cultivate, it is commonly found growing in nothing more than gravel alongside logging roads. Long lived in the wild, bulbs can be covered by several feet of rubble spilling down rocky hillsides.

Large photo is of a nursery grown plant. Inset #1 is a photo that was shot in the wild near Hood River, Oregon showing the deeper pink coloration of an aging flower.

Insert #2 is of a studio shot by Edgar Kline of this difficult to grow species. Photo from the Bill & Marry Hoffman collection.

Lily Bulb - 'L. wigginsii'
Lily Bulb - 'L. wigginsii'

A wet land type lily native to Northern California and Southern Oregon, the golden-yellow nodding flowers are spotted in purple-red. Carrying a light but pleasing fragrance, this species prefers a well drained, rich soil and some light dappled shade. Lilium wigginsii has been seen flourishing on hillsides where a constant flow of clear, fresh water is running over the bulbs.

This photo was taken of a colony located within the Hoopa Indian Reservation that was well hidden from roadside view. Discovered by the late Jim Robinette, he and his wife beamed with excitement after being asked "why are we stopping here". About 30 feet in through thick bramble was an open hillside with hundreds of 3 to 6 foot tall stems in full bloom.

Photo inset #1 is a close up of an individual flower in this colony.

Photo inset #2 shows L. wigginsii as flowered and photographed by Gene Mirro in June of 2012.

Lily Bulb - 'L. wilsonii'  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - 'L. wilsonii' (Species or Wild Lily)

Considered by Japanese botanist Moto Shimizu as being a variation of Lilium maculatum at one time, Lilium wilsonii does bloom true from seed with each generation indicating a true species. For us, it bloomes earlier than Lilium maculatum and is of shorter stature. This photo with butterfly was shot on a day when temperatures were in the mid 90's in a bed of Lilium wilsonii being grown by Ed McRae at Lava Rock Nursery in 2006. There were hundreds of butterflies working the flowers that day as it was the only moisture available, many fighting with each other unwilling to share a single bloom.

Lily Bulb - L. wallichianum  (Species or Wild Lily)
Lily Bulb - L. wallichianum (Species or Wild Lily)

Closely related to L. neilgherrense found further south in India, L. wallichianum is a "low altitude" native of the Himalayas and is not a species for gardeners that take failure personally. It requires nothing short of absolute perfect drainage, but expects to receive monsoon type rainfalls. We purchased 100 bulbs many years ago from a grower in India, but when they flowered, they were all L. nepalense. This photo is the only example we have and came from the collection of Bill and Mary Hoffman of a Edgar Kline flowered specimen.

Photo Gallery of Wild Lilies
Photo Gallery of Wild Lilies

The photos shown for each species are offered as the best example we have of color and flower form. Many wild lily bulbs have colors that vary in hue as well as spotting patterns, even within the same colony, let alone natural colonies that may be separated by hundreds of miles. Most photos shown were taken of stock plants over the years at our nursery unless otherwise noted. Click on a photo to learn more about each lily species.


Wild Lilies
Timely Tips!
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