Lilium distichum

The photograph and write-up today are both courtesy of BPotD work-learn student Taisha Mitchell:

While out deciding on an appropriate route for the aerial mapping project I recently took on, this lily caught my attention with its strong colour. With lilies, I often gain a better understanding of what it must be like to be a pollinator, as I can never resist a quick smell of the showy flowers. Always, this results in pollen upon my nose. I took this photo on July 16th in the E.H. Lohbrunner Alpine Garden here at UBC.

Lilium distichum is one of about 110 species within the genus. Members of this genus are restricted to the North Hemisphere, but just barely, with at least one species native to the Philippines. China is the centre of diversity (see: Rong, L., et al.. 2011. Collection and evaluation of the genus Lilium resources in Northeast China. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution. 58(1):115-123.). Lilium distichum can be found in China as well as adjacent Korea and Russia. This species in particular grows well in a semi-shaded place with lime-free and well-watered soil.

Lilium distichum is a bulbous species that can grow to 120cm tall. Midway up the stem, the leaves are arranged in a whorl, while in the upper part of the stem, smaller leaves are arranged alternately (see an excellent photo of this phenomenon on the Pacific Bulb Society site: Lilium spp.). Some resources online suggest the two different kinds of leaves is the reason for the epithet distichum, but distichum means “in two opposed ranks”. This seems to be more appropriately applied to the tepals, as the orange-yellow tepals occur in distinct inner and outer sets of three. The ripe pollen from the anthers is a bright orange-red. Two to ten flowers occur on each stem, with the higher numbers more likely to occur in cultivation.

Lilium distichum

3 responses to “Lilium distichum”

  1. Denis

    (Sorry for the empty post)
    Anyhow, I love the nodding lilies, prefer them in many ways to the “stargazers”.
    But, if you had to guess between the origin of the names having to do with the leaves or the flower parts, the smart money is on the flower parts when it comes to botanists.

  2. Jessica

    Thank you for the eye candy.
    That little lily is hot, hot, hot.
    I agree with Denis…much more appealing than so many of the overbloated hybrids.
    Thanks, as always, for your delightful and informative site.

  3. Cindy

    Last summer my grandson in a stroller and I moved aside a stand of these great beauties in order to pass by on the sidewalk. Talk about pollinators! We were both covered in the bright red-orange powder which did not brush off. I had to laugh the minute that beautiful photo showed up.

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