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Lilium candidum 1.jpg
Lilium candidum
Scientific classification
Type species
Lilium candidum L.

See text

  • Lirium Scop.
  • Martagon Wolf
  • Martagon (Rchb.) Opiz
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"Lily" and "Lilies" redirect here. For other uses, see Lily (disambiguation) and Lilies (disambiguation).
For the band, see Lilium (band).
Lilium candidum 1.jpg
Lilium candidum
Scientific classification
Type species
Lilium candidum L.

See text

  • Lirium Scop.
  • Martagon Wolf
  • Martagon (Rchb.) Opiz

Lilium (members of which are true lilies) is a genus of herbaceous flowering plants growing from bulbs, all with large prominent flowers. Lilies are a group of flowering plants which are important in culture and literature in much of the world. Most species are native to the temperate northern hemisphere, though their range extends into the northern subtropics. Many other plants have "lily" in their common name but are not related to true lilies.


The botanic name Lilium is the Latin form and is a Linnaean name. The Latin name is derived from the Greek λείριον, leírion, generally assumed to refer to true, white lilies as exemplified by the Madonna lily.[2][3] The word was borrowed from Coptic (dial. Fayyumic) hleri, from standard hreri, from Demotic hrry, from Egyptian hrṛt "flower".[citation needed] Meillet maintains that both the Egyptian and the Greek word are possible loans from an extinct, substratum language of the Eastern Mediterranean.[citation needed] The Greeks also used the word κρῖνον, krīnon, albeit for non-white lilies.

The term "lily" has in the past been applied to numerous flowering plants, often with only superficial resemblance to the true lily, including lotus, Agapanthus, Zantedeschia, daylily, and others.[citation needed] All English translations of the Bible render the Hebrew shūshan, shōshan, shōshannā as "lily", but the "lily among the thorns" of Song of Solomon, for instance, may be the honeysuckle.[which?][4]

For a list of other species described as lilies, see Lily (disambiguation).


Lilium longiflorum flower – 1. Stigma, 2. Style, 3. Stamens, 4. Filament, 5. Tepal

Lilies are tall perennials ranging in height from 2–6 ft (60–180 cm). They form naked or tunicless scaly underground bulbs which are their overwintering organs. In some North American species the base of the bulb develops into rhizomes, on which numerous small bulbs are found. Some species develop stolons. Most bulbs are deeply buried, but a few species form bulbs near the soil surface. Many species form stem-roots. With these, the bulb grows naturally at some depth in the soil, and each year the new stem puts out adventitious roots above the bulb as it emerges from the soil. These roots are in addition to the basal roots that develop at the base of the bulb.

The flowers are large, often fragrant, and come in a range of colours including whites, yellows, oranges, pinks, reds and purples. Markings include spots and brush strokes. The plants are late spring- or summer-flowering. Flowers are borne in racemes or umbels at the tip of the stem, with six tepals spreading or reflexed, to give flowers varying from funnel shape to a "Turk's cap". The tepals are free from each other, and bear a nectary at the base of each flower. The ovary is 'superior', borne above the point of attachment of the anthers. The fruit is a three-celled capsule.[5]

Seeds ripen in late summer. They exhibit varying and sometimes complex germination patterns, many adapted to cool temperate climates.

Naturally most cool temperate species are deciduous and dormant in winter in their native environment. But a few species which distribute in hot summer and mild winter area (Lilium candidum, Lilium catesbaei,Lilium longiflorum) lose leaves and remain relatively short dormant in Summer or Autumn, sprout from Autumn to winter, forming dwarf stem bearing a basal rosette of leaves until accept enough chilling requirement, the stem begins to elongate while warming.


Taxonomical division in sections follows the classical division of Comber,[6] species acceptance follows the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families,[7] the taxonomy of section Pseudolirium is from the Flora of North America,[8] the taxonomy of Section Liriotypus is given in consideration of Resetnik et al. 2007,[9] the taxonomy of Chinese species (various sections) follows the Flora of China [10] and the taxonomy of Section Archelirion follows Nishikawa et al.[11] as does the taxonomy of Section Archelirion.[12]

There are seven sections;

Some species formerly included within this genus have now been placed in other genera. These genera include Cardiocrinum, Notholirion, Nomocharis and Fritillaria.

Section Martagon[edit]

Lilium distichum.jpgLilium distichum
Hanson's Lily Lilium hansonii Flowers 1842px.jpgLilium hansonii
Lil martagon var cattaniae 01Infl Griechenland Rhodopen 16 07 01.jpgLilium martagonMartagon or Turk's cap lily
Lilium medeoloides 220708.JPGLilium medeoloides
Lilium tsingtauense.jpgLilium tsingtauense

Section Pseudolirium[edit]

Lilium bolanderi.jpgLilium bolanderiBolander's Lily
LiliumPuberulum.pngLilium puberulum
Lilium kelloggii.jpgLilium kelloggii
Lilium rubescens edit.jpgLilium rubescens
Lilium washingtonianum 3.jpgLilium washingtonianumWashington Lily, Shasta Lily, or Mt. Hood Lily
Lilium kelleyanum.jpgLilium kelleyanum
Lilium maritimum 2.jpgLilium maritimum
Lilium occidentale.jpgLilium occidentale
Lilium pardalinum.jpgLilium pardalinumPanther or Leopard lily
Lilium parryi.jpgLilium parryi
Lilium parvum 2.jpgLilium parvumSierra tiger lily or Alpine lily
CanadaLily.jpgLilium canadenseCanada Lily or Meadow Lily
Lilium grayi 2.jpgLilium grayi
Lilium iridollae.jpgLilium iridollae
Tiger-lily.JPGLilium michiganenseMichigan Lily
Lilium michauxii.jpgLilium michauxiiCarolina Lily
LiliumSuperbum1.jpgLilium superbumSwamp lily or American tiger lily
L.pyrophilum3r.JPGLilium pyrophilumSandhills Lily[13]
Lilium catesbaei1LEPPYONE.jpgLilium catesbaei
Wild Lily Blooming along Dog Lake Trail at Kootenay National Park.jpgLilium philadelphicumWood lily, Philadelphia lily or prairie lily

Section Liriotypus[edit]

Lilium bulbiferum mg-k.jpgLilium bulbiferumOrange Lily or Fire Lily
Lilium candidum 1.jpgLilium candidumMadonna lily
Lil chalcedonicum 01EB Griechenland Hrisomiglia 17 07 01.jpgLilium chalcedonicum
Lil kesselringianum 01Hab Tuerkei Ardahan Savsat 04 07 94.jpgLilium kesselringianum
Lilium ledebourii 2.jpgLilium ledebourii
Lilium sp. (flower).jpgLilium szovitsianumPolish Lily
Lilium monadelphum.JPGLilium monadelphum
Lilium pyrenaicum.jpgLilium pyrenaicum
Lil rhodopeum 01Infl Griechenland Rhodopen Livaditis 12 06 00.jpgLilium rhodopeum
Lii akkusianum 01aHab Tuerkei Akkus 07 07 93.jpgLilium akkusianum
Lilium bosniacum.JPGLilium bosniacum (Lilium carniolicum var. bosniacum)
Lilium carniolicum.jpgLilium carniolicum
Lilium ciliatum (2).jpgLilium ciliatum
Lilium pomponium.jpgLilium pomponiumTurban lily
Lil carniolicum subsp ponticum 01EB Tuerkei Ikizdere 02 07 93.jpgLilium ponticum
LiliumJankaeBulgaria1.jpgLilium jankae
Lil albanicum 1aEB Griechenland Katarapass 14 06 00.jpgLilium albanicum
Lilium polyphyllum.jpgLilium polyphyllum

Section Archelirion[edit]

LiliumAuratumVVirginaleBluete2Rework.jpgLilium auratumGolden rayed lily of Japan, or Goldband lily
Lilium auratum var. platyphyllum.jpgLilium platyphyllum
Lilium brownii.jpgLilium brownii
Lilium japonicum 'Hyuga form' in Mount HokodakeLilium japonicum
Lilium nobilissimum
Lilium rubellum.jpgLilium rubellum
Lilium speciosum.jpgLilium speciosumJapanese lily

Section Sinomartagon[edit]

Lilium davidii 5.jpgLilium davidii
Lilium duchartrei.jpgLilium duchartrei
Lilium henryi Inflorescence BotGardBln0806b.jpgLilium henryiTiger Lily or Henry's lily
Tigerlilysmall.jpgLilium lancifoliumTiger Lily (often known as L. tigrinum)
Lilium lankongense2.jpgLilium lankongense
Leichtlinii.jpgLilium leichtlinii
Lilium papilliferum
LiliumRosthorniiFlora.jpgLilium rosthornii
Lilium amabile.jpgLilium amabile
Lilium callosum.jpgLilium callosum
Lilium cernuum.jpgLilium cernuum
Lilium concolor.jpgLilium concolorMorning Star Lily
Lilium fargesii.jpgLilium fargesii
Lilium pumilum (Flower) 1.JPGLilium pumilumCoral Lily, Low Lily, or Siberian Lily
Lilium xanthellum
Lilium amoenum
Lilium bakerianum
Lilium henrici
Lilium lijiangense
Lil lophophorum 01aHab China Yunnan Big Snow Pass 19 06 01.jpgLilium lophophorum
Siroi Lily.jpgLilium mackliniaeSiroi Lily
Lilium nanum.JPGLilium nanum
Lilium nepalense (flower).jpgLilium nepalense
Lilium oxypetalum
Lilium paradoxum
Lilium primulinum
Lilium sempervivoideum
Lilium sherriffiae
Lilium souliei
Lilium stewartianum
Lilium taliense
Lilium wardii.jpgLilium wardii
Lilium arboricola
Lilium anhuiense
Lilium brevistylum
Lil habaense 01aEB China Yunnan Gang Ho Ba 25 06 01.jpgLilium habaense
Lilium huidongense
Lilium jinfushanense
Lilium matangense
Lilium pinifolium
Poilanei.jpgLilium poilanei
Lilium saccatum
Lilium tianschanicum
Lilium floridum
Lilium medogense

Section Leucolirion[edit]

Lilium leucanthum var. centifolium.jpgLilium leucanthum
Lilium puerense
Lil regale 01Infl China Sichuan Wolong 18 06 04.jpgLilium regale
LiliumSargentiae.jpgLilium sargentiae
Liliumsulphureumflower2.jpgLilium sulphureum
Lilium formosanum.jpgLilium formosanum
Lilium longiflorum (Easter Lily).JPGLilium longiflorumEaster Lily
LiliumPhillipinenseFlora6.jpgLilium philippinense
Lilium wallichianum.jpgLilium wallichianum
Lilium wenshanense.jpgLilium wenshanense

Section Daurolirion[edit]

Lilium pensylvanicum.jpgLilium pensylvanicum
Lilium maculatum flower.jpgLilium maculatum

Section not specified[edit]

Lilium eupetes

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The range of lilies in the Old World extends across much of Europe, across most of Asia to Japan, south to India, and east to Indochina and the Philippines. In the New World they extend from southern Canada through much of the United States. They are commonly adapted to either woodland habitats, often montane, or sometimes to grassland habitats. A few can survive in marshland and epiphytes are known in tropical southeast Asia. In general they prefer moderately acidic or lime-free soils.


Lilies are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the Dun-bar.


Many species are widely grown in the garden in temperate and sub-tropical regions. They may also be grown as potted plants. Numerous ornamental hybrids have been developed. They can be used in herbaceous borders, woodland and shrub plantings, and as patio plants. Some lilies, especially Lilium longiflorum, form important cut flower crops. These may be forced for particular markets; for instance, L. longiflorum for the Easter trade, when it may be called the Easter lily.

Lilies are usually planted as bulbs in the dormant season. They are best planted in a south-facing (northern hemisphere), slightly sloping aspect, in sun or part shade, at a depth 2½ times the height of the bulb (except L. candidum which should be planted at the surface). Most prefer a porous, loamy soil, and good drainage is essential. Most species bloom in July or August (northern hemisphere). The flowering periods of certain lily species begin in late spring, while others bloom in late summer or early autumn.[14] They have contractile roots which pull the plant down to the correct depth, therefore it is better to plant them too shallowly than too deep. A soil pH of around 6.5 is generally safe. The soil should be well-drained, and plants must be kept watered during the growing season. Some plants have strong wiry stems, but those with heavy flower heads may need staking.[15][16]


Below is a list of lily species and cultivars that have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit:-

Classification of garden forms[edit]

Numerous forms, mostly hybrids, are grown for the garden. They vary according to the species and interspecific hybrids that they derived from, and are classified in the following broad groups:[26][27][28]

Asiatic hybrid flower
Dwarf Asiatic Lily 'Tiny Dessert' growing in patio border
An Oriental hybrid showing open and unopened flower
An emasculated Lilium 'Stargazer'

The flowers can be classified by flower aspect and form:[34]

Flower aspect:

  • a up-facing
  • b out-facing
  • c down-facing

Flower form:

  • a trumpet-shaped
  • b bowl-shaped
  • c flat (or with tepal tips recurved)
  • d tepals strongly recurved (with the Turk’s cap form as the ultimate state)

Many newer commercial varieties are developed by using new technologies such as ovary culture and embryo rescue.[35]

Pests and diseases[edit]

Scarlet lily beetles, Oxfordshire, UK

Aphids may infest plants. Leatherjackets feed on the roots. Larvae of the Scarlet lily beetle can cause serious damage to the stems and leaves. The scarlet beetle lays its eggs and completes its life cycle only on true lilies (Lilium) and fritillaries (Fritillaria).[36] Oriental, rubrum, tiger and trumpet lilies as well as Oriental trumpets (orienpets) and Turk's cap lilies and native North American Lilium species are all vulnerable, but the beetle prefers some types over others. The beetle could also be having an effect on native Canadian species and some rare and endangered species found in northeastern North America.[37] Daylilies (Hemerocallis, not true lilies) are excluded from this category. Plants can suffer from damage caused by mice, deer and squirrels. Slugs, snails and millipedes attack seedlings, leaves and flowers. Brown spots on damp leaves may signal botrytis (also known as lily disease). Various fungal and viral diseases can cause mottling of leaves and stunting of growth.

Propagation and growth[edit]

Lilies can be propagated in several ways;

According to a study done by Anna Pobudkiewicz and Jadwiga the use of flurprimidol foliar spray helps aid in the limitation of stem elongation in oriental lilies. (1)


Some Lilium species are toxic to cats. This is known to be so especially for L. longiflorum though other Lilium and the unrelated Hemerocallis can also cause the same symptoms.[39][40][41] The true mechanism of toxicity is undetermined, but it involves damage to the renal tubular epithelium (composing the substance of the kidney and secreting, collecting, and conducting urine), which can cause acute renal failure. Veterinary help should be sought, as a matter of urgency, for any cat that is suspected of eating any part of a lily - including licking pollen that may have brushed onto its coat.[42]

Culinary and herb uses[edit]


Lilium bulbs are starchy and edible as root vegetables, although bulbs of some species may be very bitter. The non-bitter bulbs of L. lancifolium, L. pumilum, and especially L. brownii (Chinese: 百合 ; pinyin: bǎihé gān) and Lilium davidii var unicolor are grown on a large scale in China as a luxury or health food, and are most often sold in dry form for herb, the fresh form often appears with other vegetables. The dried bulbs are commonly used in the south to flavor soup. Lily flowers are also said to be efficacious in pulmonary affections, and to have tonic properties.[43] Lily flowers and bulbs are eaten especially in the summer, for their perceived ability to reduce internal heat.[44] They may be reconstituted and stir-fried, grated and used to thicken soup, or processed to extract starch. Their texture and taste draw comparisons with the potato, although the individual bulb scales are much smaller. There are also species which are meant to be suitable for culinary and/or herb uses. There are five traditional lily species whose bulbs are certified and classified as "vegetable and non-staple foodstuffs" on the National geographical indication product list of China.[45]

Culinary use:[46]
野百合Lilium brownii, 百合(变种)Lilium brownii var. viridulum, 渥丹 Lilium concolor, 毛百合 Lilium dauricum, 川百合 Lilium davidii, 东北百合 Lilium distichum, 卷丹 Lilium lancifolium, 新疆百合(变种) Lilium martagon var. pilosiusculum, 山丹 Lilium pumilum, 南川百合 Lilium rosthornii, 药百合(变种) Lilium speciosum var. gloriosoides.
Herb use:[47][48]
野百合 Lilium brownii, 百合(变种)Lilium brownii var. viridulum, 渥丹 Lilium concolor, 毛百合 Lilium dauricum, 卷丹 Lilium lancifolium, 山丹 Lilium pumilum, 南川百合 Lilium rosthornii, 药百合(变种) Lilium speciosum var. gloriosoides, 淡黄花百合 Lilium sulphureum.
And there are researches about the selection of new varieties of edible lilies from the horticultural cultivars, such as 'Batistero' and 'California' among 15 lilies in Beijing,[49] and 'Prato' and 'Small foreigners' among 13 lilies in Ningbo.[50]


Culinary use: Yuri-ne (lily-root) is also common in Japanese cuisine, especially as an ingredient of chawan-mushi (savoury egg custard). The major lilium species cultivated as vegetable are L. leichtlinii var. maximowiczii, L. lancifolium, and L. auratum[51][52]

Herb use: Lilium lancifolium, Lilium brownii var. viridulum, Lilium brownii var colchesteri, Lilium pumilum[53]


Culinary use:

Herb use:

South Korea[edit]

The lilium species which are officially listed as herbs are 이 약은 참나리 Lilium lancifolium Thunberg; 백합 Lilium brownii var. viridulun Baker; 또는 큰솔나리 Lilium pumilum DC.[59][60]

The "lily" flower buds known as jīnzhēn (金针, "golden needles") in Chinese cuisine are actually from the daylily Hemerocallis fulva.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "World Checklist of Selected Plant Families". Retrieved June 13, 2014. 
  2. ^ Hyam, R. & Pankhurst, R.J. (1995). Plants and their names : a concise dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 186. ISBN 978-0-19-866189-4. 
  3. ^ "Classification". Archived from the original on April 15, 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-22. 
  4. ^ Shorter Oxford English dictionary, 6th ed. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. 2007. p. 3804. ISBN 0199206872. 
  5. ^ European Garden Flora; Volume 1
  6. ^ Harold Comber, 1949. "A new classification of the genus Lilium." Lily Yearbook, Royal Hortic. Soc., London. 15:86–105.
  7. ^ Govaerts, R. World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. |url= missing title (help). Retrieved 2013-02-03. 
  8. ^ Flora of North America, Vol. 26, Online
  9. ^ Resetnik I., Liber Z., Satovic Z., Cigic P., Nikolic T. (2007). "Molecular phylogeny and systematics of the Lilium carniolicum group (Liliaceae) based on nuclear ITS sequences". Plant Systematics and Evolution 265: 45–58. doi:10.1007/s00606-006-0513-y. 
  10. ^ Flora of China, Vol. 24,
  11. ^ Nishikawa Tomotaro, Okazaki Keiichi, Arakawa Katsuro, Nagamine Tsukasa (2001). "Phylogenetic Analysis of Section Sinomartagon in Genus Lilium Using Sequences of the Internal Transcribed Spacer Region in Nuclear Ribosomal DNA". 育種学雑誌 Breeding science 51 (1): 39–46. doi:10.1270/jsbbs.51.39. 
  12. ^ Nishikawa Tomotaro, Okazaki Keiichi, Nagamine Tsukasa (2002). "Phylogenetic Relationships among Lilium auratum Lindley, L. auratum var. platyphyllum Baker and L. rubellum Baker Based on Three Spacer Regions in Chloroplast DNA". 育種学雑誌 Breeding science 52 (3): 207–213. doi:10.1270/jsbbs.52.207. 
  13. ^ "Lilium pyrophilum in Flora of North America @". Retrieved 2013-02-03. 
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  15. ^ RHS encyclopedia of plants & flowers. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2010. p. 744. ISBN 1405354232. 
  16. ^ Jefferson-Brown, Michael (2008). Lilies (Wisley handbooks). United Kingdom: Mitchell Beazley. p. 96. ISBN 1845333845. 
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  23. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Lilium pardalinum (IXc/d) AGM / RHS Gardening". Retrieved 2013-02-03. 
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External links[edit]