Sunday, June 17, 2018

Georgia Lilies

Our native lilies are so beautiful and exotic that I’m never surprised when someone questions whether they are native to the U.S. (you see, some people still think that native plants must be drab plants, that’s why they buy foreign ones in a store). We have six species of native lilies in Georgia and this post is dedicated to them.

Lilium michauxii, 2009 in my garden
Lilium superbum, Blue Ridge Parkway

The first native lily that I ever saw is Michaux’s lily (Lilium michauxii). It is indigenous to my county and we found it on a plant rescue once. Also called Carolina lily, it is found in the Carolinas and all of the southeastern states. Its bright colors and dramatic petals are worthy of the highest admiration. I soon became aware of the similar-looking turk’s cap lily (Lilium superbum). It would be some time before I’d get a chance to see it in the wild. The towering plants that I found on the Blue Ridge Parkway left no doubt as to why someone might call this the superb lily!

Lilium canadense from Debbie M.

Lilium canadense ssp. editorum from Karen M.
The next lilies that I saw were gifts from friends. The Canada lily (Lilium canadense) is an easy-growing species that happily grows into a small colony, especially in areas with good moisture.  There are several different forms of it so when I came into possession of what was thought to be Michigan lily, it turned out to be Lilium canadense ssp. editorum.

Lilium michiganense; Photo: R&T Ware

Richard Ware of the Georgia Botanical Society corrected that id and has kindly provided me with a photo of Michigan lily (Lilium michiganense) to share. Native only to Floyd County in Georgia, it has deeply reflexed tepals and rich, red color. Like the turk’s cap and Canada lilies, Michigan lily usually produces multiple flowers per plant.

Wood lily (Lilium philadelphicum) is found only in two counties in NW Georgia. The shortest of our Georgia lilies, which I photographed in Dade County, was not even knee high in full sun. A nearby one in partial shade was taller as it reached for the sun. The tapered tepals give this lily a dramatic look.

Lilium philadelphicum

Lilium catesbaei; Photo: R&T Ware

The last of the six lilies also has tapered tepals. Catesby’s lily (Lilium catesbaei) is native to the Coastal Plain; it is also called pine lily. This is another one that I have not seen in person. Richard and Teresa Ware have also provided one of their photos for me to share. Similar to Michaux’s lily and wood lily, the pine lily may only have one flower per plant and the size is 2-3 feet tall.

You may encounter non-native lilies naturalizing near where humans have planted them. The Philippine lily (Lilium formosanum) and the Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum) are similar looking white lilies that might be near homes or in cemeteries. The tiger lily (Lilium lancifolium) has orange flowers and distinctive dark aerial bulbets in the leaf axils. Some people mistake this one for turk’s cap lily but the foliage is different enough even when not in flower to distinguish them.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Georgia's lilies. For a broader look at Georgia's native plants in the lily family (Liliaceae), check out this previous post of mine.

1 comment:

  1. Loved your post on native Georgia lilies. I live in north FL (Gainesville),and some of these probably overlap into this area. Irma