Lily like plant identification

Plant Database

Cressler, Alan

Lilium canadense

Canada Lily, Canadian Lily, Wild Yellow Lily

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

This is a large, showy lily, 3-8 ft. tall, which bears flat, mostly whorled, lance-shaped leaves and is crowned with up to 20 pendulous, flowers. From 1 to several nodding flowers, each on a long stalk and ranging in color from yellow to orange-red with dark spots, are at the top of a stem that also bears whorled leaves. The slightly recurved lilies are yellow on the outside, reddish orange with dark spots on the inside.

As many as 16-20 of these beautiful, stalked, nodding flowers may be borne on one plant, either rising from the axils of leafy bracts or in a group at the end of the flowering stalk. The flower buds and roots were gathered and eaten by Indians. A similar Midwestern species, Michigan Lily (L. michiganense), has sepals and petals which curve backward until they touch the flower tube.

From the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Orange , Yellow
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , GA , IN , KS , KY , MA , MD , ME , NC , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , WV
Canada: NB , NS , ON , QC
Native Distribution: N.S. to OH, s. to MD, SC & AL
Native Habitat: Meadows; low thickets; wet woods

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
Soil Description: Cool, moist, organic soil.
Conditions Comments: Not Available


Conspicuous Flowers: yes


Description: Propagation is easiest from division of the scaly bulb, which can be dug as soon as the plant goes dormant and the seed is ripe in late summer. Seeds planted just after collection with usually germinate in the fall and overwinter as tiny bulbs, resuming

Seed Collection: Collect 6-8 weeks after bloom period when the capsule have turned brown and begun to split. Store seeds moist in sealed, refrigerated containers.
Seed Treatment: Not Available
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status


This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241).Click herefor map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Delaware Nature Society – Hockessin, DE
Mt. Cuba Center – Hockessin, DE


Bibref 1294 – The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.
Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Lilium canadense in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Lilium canadense in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Lilium canadense


Record Modified: 2015-07-15
Research By: TWC Staff

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North American Lilium A-M

Species Lilium that originate in North America from A-M are found on this page.

North American Lilium N-Z

Other Lilium sections and hybrids are linked below:
North American Lilium N-Z – Asiatic Section A-C – Asiatic Section D-K – Asiatic Section L-O – Asiatic Section P-Z – Candidum Section – Dauricum Section – Martagon Section – Oriental Section – Trumpet Section – Lilium Hybrids – Lilium index

Lilium bolanderi S.Watson, Bolander’s Lily, is found in the Klamath ranges of California and into SW Oregon, elevation 150-1600 m. Photos by Ron Parsons from wild populations in Humboldt County, CA.

Photographs by Rimmer de Vries taken on the 17th and 19th July 2010 in the South Siskyou mountains in North West California East of Crescent City.

Lilium canadense L. is native to the east coast of Canada and parts of the New England States and can reach well over 6 feet in height, with 20 flowers per stem on long pedicels, with lemon yellow pointed tepals with dark purple spots. The flowers become bell shaped as they mature. This lily likes to grow on the edge of woodlands where it can obtain a little shade. Photos 1-3 were taken by Ron Moodycliffe. Photos 4-5 were taken of plants in situ in Vermont by Ron Parsons. Photo 6 illustrates the bulb, which is growing at the end of a thick stolon, by Janos Agoston.

Photos below submitted by Darm Crook.

Lilium canadense var. coccineum (Pursh 1814) is a variety not recognized by all. Two views in photos 1 and 2 from Arnold Trachtenberg; reverse of tepals are alternate in appearance. Photos 3-5 submitted by Darm Crook. This variety has extreme colour variations, from almost pink, to light orange, crimson, dark orange plus bi-coloured reverse of orange and yellow, the spotting patterns have just as much variation, from almost nothing to very heavy. Photo 6 of a bulb Pontus Wallstén.

Lilium canadense var. flavum (Pursh 1814) is another variety not recognized by Kew. This variety has yellow flowers spotted crimson to brown. Photos submitted by Darm Crook.

Lilium catesbaei Walter from southeastern North America, requires conditions which would kill most lilies: wet, hot, acidic soil. It generally blooms late in the year and typically there is only one flower. Grown by bog plant guru John Hummer and photographed by Jim McKenney. Two forms are shown here. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the plant with spidery flowers originated in northern Florida. The one with broader tepals purportedly came from coastal North Carolina.

Variance of wild plants from adjacent Bay, Gulf, and Liberty Counties in the central panhandle of Florida. Photos by Alani Davis.

An ananthocyanic form found in the Florida panhandle. Photos by Alani Davis.

Lilium columbianum Leichtlin grows from Northern California north to Canada. Flowers are golden yellow to bright orange with dark purple spots or blotches and up to 30 flowers per stem. In photo 1 by Ron Moodycliffe the flowers are golden yellow. Photos 2-4 are from Richard Haard. The last shows germinating seeds: 30 days warm strat (50 °F) then 2 weeks cool (40 °F). Photo 5 of a bulb by Pontus Wallstén.

The first three photos by Bob Rutemoeller show plants growing in mass along the highway in Northern California. The last three photos from Ron Parsons show more plants in the wild, found in Douglas County, Oregon (photos 4,5) and along highway 101 Del Norte County, California (photo 6).

This species grows into British Columbia (BC) Canada and continues north through the BC interior with its last known site in BC being around Ft. Saint John. It also grows north of the last known BC site in the Yukon Territories Canada on the Liard Plato. The florets are held on arching pedicels in a raceme inflorescence. In Hay River there are stems that have produced up to eighteen florets. The foliage is set in whorls; some of them can be partial whorls. The colour varies from orange to a light yellow. Nine photos of two colour forms submitted by Darm Crook.

Lilium grayi S.Watson is found at scattered sites in the mountains of western Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. Rarely seen in gardens in the eastern states and seems to grow more freely in cooler northern areas. Photo 1 by Wayne Crist of a plant grown by Jim McKenney in his bog trays, with Sarracenia in the background. Photo 2 of a bulb by Pontus Wallstén.

Lilium humboldtii Roezl & Leichtlin ex Duch. see the Lilium humboldtii page. Representative photos of this species by Mary Sue Ittner, Ron Parsons, Nhu Nguyen and Jim Duggan.

Lilium iridollae M.G.Henry is native to the Florida panhandle and a few adjacent Alabama counties. In the wild in grows in two distinct habitats: seepage bogs in otherwise dry, upland pine (Pinus palustris) forest and wet, organic soils of the riparian zone of the unique “blackwater” rivers characteristic of this region. Both habitats are extremely wet, but in the latter habitat Lilium iridollae may occur in estuary areas and may become inundated with brackish water during tidal fluctuations. Lilium iridollae has been regarded as difficult, if not impossible, to grow in cultivation but seed germination and cultivation experiments indicate that it is easy to grow in bog gardens and containers with a medium that suits Sarracenia, Drosera, and other carnivorous plants that are common companions of Lilium iridollae in the wild. Pictures shown here, taken by Peter Zale, are of plants in the wild (first row) and in cultivation in a greenhouse in central Ohio, USA. So far, initial reports indicate that Lilium iridollae is cold hardy to USDA zone 5 when proper soil and moisture conditions are provided.

Photo of a bulb by Pontus Wallstén.

Lilium kelleyanum Lemmon from the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains, eastern side, 8-9500′. Photo 1 by John Longanecker. Photos 2-3 by Ron Parsons, wild population Fresno County California, early July 2006. Photo 4 of a bulb by Pontus Wallstén.

Lilium kelloggii Purdy from the redwood region of Northern California to Southwest Oregon, growing on dry slopes with wet winters and some summer moisture from fog. The flowers appear in June and have a soft, sweet fragrance. The pictured plant is growing in a raised bed in NW Oregon, covered from mid-November to mid-February. First photo by Jane McGary. The next two, by John Longanecker, are of a potted specimen grown from seed gathered in Kneeland, Humboldt County, CA. where it grows in a fog drip zone at 1700′. It was grown in Placerville, CA. El 2240′ zone 7 banana belt. Photos four and five taken by Mary Sue Ittner are of garden plants blooming from seed. Photo 6 of bulbs by Pontus Wallstén.

Photos taken by Ron Parsons of plants in situ in Humboldt County, California.

Photos by Darm Crook of several seedlings’ first flowering; photo one shows a first day open floret, photo four shows the same floret on day ten; the last photo shows a floret on day 13, the last day it had any tepals left.

Lilium maritimum Kellogg is a rare lily with red tubular flowers and is found in California in the southern part of the North Coast ranges where it is found in scrub, fens, or gaps in the closed-cone forests, usually in low places where it stays wet longer. Germination is cool hypogeal; small bulbs are formed in winter and leaves appear in spring. The first two pictures were taken by Bob Rutemoeller near Gualala, California. The next two by Mary Sue Ittner were taken of plants in the road verges in Mendocino County.

Photos below of a different color form were taken by Mary Sue Ittner at the Point Arena-Stornetta Unit of the California Coastal National Monument.

The first photo was taken by Ron Moodycliffe in a paddock near Ft. Bragg, California and the second by Ron Parsons Sonoma County, California. The last two are photos of bulbs by Pontus Wallstén.

Lilium michauxii Poir. is native to Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida in the United States. It likes dry, well-drained soils. It is commonly called the ‘Carolina lily’. Photos 1 and 2 taken in Tyler County, Texas by Justin Smith. Photo 3 of rhizomateous roots by Pontus Wallstén.

Lilium michiganense Farw. is found in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, other eastern areas of the United States and Southern Ontario Canada. It prefers moist acidic soils. Photos 1-2 by John Lonsdale. Photo 3 by Darm Crook. Photo 4 of a bulb by Pontus Wallstén.

More photos from Darm Crook.

American Section N-Z – Asiatic Section A-C – Asiatic Section D-K – Asiatic Section L-O – Asiatic Section P-Z – Candidum Section – Dauricum Section – Martagon Section – Oriental Section – Trumpet Section – Lilium Hybrids – Lilium index

Return to the PBS wiki Photographs And Information page

Life Cycle of a Lily Plant

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A lily (Lilium sp.) is a flowering plant classified as an angiosperm, a plant that forms seeds in a protective, fleshy carpal. The life cycle of the lily is straightforward, beginning with germination of the seed and growth into a plant with leaves, stem and roots. At maturity, the lily will form a flower, complete with male and female floral parts that will join during fertilization, often assisted by the transfer of pollen to the ovary via an insect. Once fertilized, the ovary develops into a fertile seed.


Once the seed of the lily is exposed to appropriate amounts of light, warmth and moisture in the topsoil, the plant embryo will swell and break through the seedcoat. A taproot and shoot will emerge. The cotyledons, or initial leaves ,will poke up from the soil and become green as the initial chlorophyll pigments are formed and photosynthesis begins.

Plant Growth

The juvenile plant will continue to grow, forming more leaves and roots as more food is produced during photosynthesis and the roots continue to absorb water and nutrients. With time, excess food will permit the formation of a bulb in the ground–a collection of scale-like tissues in a rounded mass.


As the first growth year wanes and autumnal cold and frosts kill back the above-ground foliage, nutrients and food will be located in the underground bulb to overwinter.

This perennial plant re-emerges in the warmth of spring, utilizing the stored energy from the bulb for the initial growth spurt of stems and leaves. Throughout the summer, the plant gains strength and vigor as it makes more food during photosynthesis, enough energy in that flowering can be undertaken.


The mature plant will manufacture appropriate hormones to initiate flowering according to its genetic code, unique for each species. Stem tips will differentiate into flower buds, eventually swelling to reveal a perfect flower, one with both male and female structures.

In the center of the flower is the female pistil with its lower ovary, neck-like style and topped by the stigma, the point where the male pollen is received. Surrounding the pistil is a ring of six male-gendered stamens, each with a thread-like stem called a filament and topped by the pollen-shedding sacs in the anther.

Pollination and Fertilization

The six petals attract visual attention to pollinating insects who frequent the stamens for pollen and the sweet nectar of the style. As the insect maneuvers around the flower, pollen grains are deposited onto the style, initiating pollination.

Enzymes are released by the pollen grains and the pollen penetrates the long style tube, eventually finding its way to the ovary. Fertilization takes place. The fusion of the pollen’s male DNA with the ovary’s female DNA results in the formation of seeds.

Maturation of the Seed

Weeks after fertilization, the plant has expended energy into the maturation of the seeds. The swollen ovary, looking like a plump pod, finally dries and browns when the seeds are ripe. The pod cracks and split open, releasing the seeds to drop to the fertile soil below. The seed rests in dormancy in the autumn and winter, awaiting the ideal conditions for germination the following spring.

Asiatic, Aurelian and Oriental hybrids are probably the most popular types of lilies found in American gardens. But did you know that there are about 90 species in the genus Lilium?

In Greek mythology, the lily flower symbolized the goddess Hera and represented purity and innocence. This association is probably one of the reasons why lilies are regarded as one of the most beautiful flowers in the world. The most popular hybrids are Asiatic, Aurelian and Oriental lilies, but did you know that there are about 90 species in the genus Lilium?

Read on to learn more about nine different divisions of lilies and a few of their common cultivars, so that you can determine which would bloom best in your garden. We also created a visual guide including the top 10 most popular types of lilies to help you identify your favorite types.

Division 1: Asiatic Hybrids

The earliest bloomers, cold hardy Asiatic hybrids are the easiest to grow and boast the broadest color range. Their stems reach three to four feet tall and are topped with small (four to five inch), unscented flowers. Asiatic hybrid blossoms are up facing, outfacing, or pendant. Asiatic hybrids are one most popular types of lilies for cut flowers and potted plants. This division includes L.’Sunray’, L. ‘Montreaux’, L. ‘Dreamland’, L.’Corsica’, L. ‘Symphony’, L. ‘Connecticut King’ and L. ‘Orange Pixie’ cultivars.

To extend the life of your cut lilies, harvest them from your garden when the lower buds show color but are not yet open. If shopping for a bouquet, be sure to pick one that has plenty of buds. Remove the bottom leaves and cut at a 45-degree angle. Be sure to change the water in the vase every few days or use a floral preservative.

Division 2: Martagon Hybrids

Also known as Turk’s Cap lilies, Martagon hybrids produce small, downward facing flowers and whorled leaves. Another early bloomer, these tall lilies thrive in cool weather and shade as opposed to hot or humid climates. While they may have trouble adjusting to a new garden, these hybrid lilies will thrive once established.

The first recognized Martagon hybrid is called ‘Marhan’ (L. x dalhansonii), which was cultivated in the Netherlands in 1891. The ‘Backhouse’ hybrids were created in England towards the end of the 20th century, and the ‘Paisley’ hybrids are a rare heritage variety.

Division 3: Candidum Hybrids

The first mention of lilies dates back about 4,000 years and refers to a pure white version of the Madonna lily (L. candidum). Artifacts depicting this lily have been found in ancient cities of Crete, Greece, and Mesopotamia. Native to the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean, this division includes most European varieties. It blooms from late spring to early summer and produces fragrant white lilies with a yellow base.

  1. ‘June Fragrance’ is the most notable cultivar in this division. It is a cross between L. candidum salonikae and L. monadelphum, and this new hybrid has since been used as a parent to create newer hybrids.

Division 4: American Hybrids

American hybrids are derived from wild lilies native to North America. They bloom in late spring (May to mid-June) in warm climates and midsummer (end of June to early July) in cooler climates.

On the west coast, you’ll find the Tiger Lily (L. columbianum) and Panther Lily (L. pardalinum). The east coast is where you’ll find the Canada Lily (L. canadense), Turk’s Cap Lily (L. superbum) and Philadelphia Lily (L. philadelphicum). The ‘Bellingham’ hybrids are the most well-known American hybrid cultivars.

Division 5: Longiflorum Hybrids

  1. Longiflorum is commonly known as an Easter Lily and used for Easter decoration. This fragrant lily is pure white with large (six to seven inches) trumpet-shaped flowers. It is native to Japan and Taiwan, and based on Japanese writings, dates back to at least the 17th century.

While it is easily raised from seed, it is not hardy in a garden and must be given a protected location to bloom. It is almost exclusively grown in containers in North America. Popular cultivars in this division include L. ‘Nellie White’, ‘Ace’, and ‘White America’.

Division 6: Trumpet and Aurelian Hybrids

Trumpets and Aurelians are classified in the same division. They prefer full sun and bloom from mid to late summer (July to August). This division is not frost hardy, so in cooler climates, you’ll want to grow these hybrids in containers.

Aurelians inherit their hardiness from the species L. henryi and are easy to grow. Aurelian sunbursts and flares (L. henryi crossed with trumpets) bloom later, have more willowy stems (often reaching 60 inches or more), and sometimes produce secondary/tertiary buds for a long season. The most notable cultivars in this division are L. ‘Black Magic’, L. ‘Black Dragon’, L. ‘Royal Gold’ and L. ‘Pink Perfection’.

Division 7: Oriental Hybrids

Oriental hybrids are derived from crossing species lilies such as L. auratum and L. speciosum. These lilies can reach heights of five feet, and have large blooms (six to eight inches) with recurved petals and strong, upright facing flowers. Their bloom time starts in late summer and can even last into the fall, although they tend to be at their showiest in August. If your soil is alkaline, you’ll want to grow these hybrids in containers.

In part due to their strong fragrance, they are among the most popular of cut flowers. Favorite Oriental hybrid cultivars are the L. ‘Casa Blanca’, L. ‘Star Gazer’ and L. ‘Mona Lisa’.

Division 8: Interdivisional Hybrids

These varieties are created by crossing plants from the other seven divisions. LA hybrids are the result of crossing L. longiflorum with Asiatic varieties, which produces large flowers (four to seven inches) that are mostly flat and have a slight fragrance.

OT hybrids involve crossing Oriental lilies with Trumpet/Aurelian lilies for robust and durable hybrids that produce large (six to ten inches), heavily scented, upward-outward facing flowers. LO Hybrids cross L. longiflorum and one or more oriental hybrid cultivars to produce large flowers (six to ten inches) which are fragrant, outward facing and trumpet-shaped with curved petals.

Division 9: Species

The lilies in this division are the wild parents of the first eight hybrid groups. Native lilies are found in temperate climates in North America, Europe, and especially Asia. In the wild, lilies mainly propagate from their seeds. Despite the fact that they can grow in the wild, they can be harder to grow than hybrids in gardens.

Lily Growing Tips

Lilies have a growing season that lasts from mid-spring until late autumn, with bloom times depending on the variety. Bulbs should be planted in the spring or fall, amongst shorter flowers that will help support their long stems which can range from two to ten feet tall to support their large showy blooms that nod downward or look to the sky.

Some varieties are easily grown from seed, such as longiflorum hybrids, but lily flowers can take up to four years to bloom. How they will perform in your garden depends on the variety; some prefer shade, some prefer sun. Some varieties, like Species and American hybrids, are harder to grow.

Of course, if you have a special event coming up (or don’t possess a green thumb), you don’t have to wait for your lilies to bloom in the garden. Stunning, elegant lily bouquets can be delivered to your home any time of the year, at a moment’s notice. With their bright colors, delicate shapes and renowned fragrance, lilies add drama to any special occasion.

10 Most Popular Types of Lilies

To help you choose your favorite types of lilies, we created a handy guide below which features the top 10 most popular types.


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