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Results tagged “liliaceae”

Aug 2, 2013: Lilium distichum

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.

Jul 25, 2013: Cardiocrinum giganteum

Taisha is the author of today's entry:

Today's images are of Cardiocrinum giganteum (image 1 | image 2), or the giant Himalayan lily. The first image of the species in blossom is from Safia girl@Flickr and the second of the capsules is by Meighan@Flickr. Both photos were submitted via the BPotD Flickr Pool. I wrote today's entry after recently seeing an article about a plant at the University of Aberdeen's Cruickshank Botanical Garden blossoming for the first (and only) time after seven years of growth.

The plant at Cruickshank Botanical Garden is Cardiocrinum giganteum var. yunnanense. It has been in the ground in the Garden for three years, having been planted as a four-year-old bulb. The 2-meter tall plant will apparently die after this blossom, but horticulturalists at Cruickshank Botanical Garden say they will attempt to regrow it from seed in hopes of seeing another flowering of this species in future years.

After reading this article, I realized we too have this species growing in the David C. Lam Asian Garden here at UBC. It blossomed about three weeks ago, although I wasn't able to snap a picture. Our Cardiocrinum giganteum only stood a meter tall this year, though the Garden has a dried stem from a previous planting towering over 3 meters tall! It's amazing to see how enormous this lily can get.

The giant Himalayan lily occasionally reaches up to 4 meters in height. The flowering stem carries leaves that are similar to those in the basal rosette of leaves. Trumpet-shaped flowers are white with stripes of red-purple. The fruit, as shown above, is a capsule holding reniform (or kidney-shaped) seeds.

Apr 1, 2013: Lilium hansonii

Lilium hansonii

Thanks once again to James Gaither (aka J.G. in S.F.@Flickr) for today's photographs of Lilium hansonii, photographed at the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley. Appreciated, as always.

Lilium hansonii was named for the 19th century Danish-born artist, Peter Hanson. In addition to his landscape artistry, Hanson was a cultivator of tulips and lilies, and was honoured with having this species named after him (a story about Hanson's death (PDF), via the New York Times archives).

Different resources suggest different native ranges for Hanson's lily or whorled martagon, but USDA GRIN has settled on Japan and Korea. China and far eastern Russia are sometimes also included in its native range, though it is often suggested that its presence in China is due to cultivation. Similarly, Japan is not always considered native (again, due to cultivation), suggesting instead that the species is solely native to Korea.

For the first century or so of its cultivation in European and North American gardens, all plants of Lilium hansonii were the same clone, as the species is self-sterile and only a single introduction was made. Only in recent decades have additional collections and selections been introduced to European / North American cultivation.

Additional photographs are available via the Pacific Bulb Society Wiki: martagon lilies, including Lilium hansonii.

Sep 7, 2012: Lilium superbum

Today's images are again courtesy of Hugh and Carol Nourse@Flickr, of Georgia, USA (original image 1 | original image 2 via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool). Both were taken earlier this year, in mid-July. Thank you!

Within North America, Turk's-cap lily is the largest lily east of the Rocky Mountains. It is also the tallest species of lily in North America, sometimes reaching 2.8m (9 ft.).The species ranges over much of the eastern USA, occupying a number of habitats from near sea-level to 1600m (5250 ft.). As shown in the first photograph with the accompanying Papilio glaucus (eastern tiger swallowtail), swallowtail butterflies are pollinators for this species--in fact, the primary pollinators.

Missouri Botanical Garden has a small factsheet on Lilium superbum, including some advice for cultivating it. Another description of the species with additional photographs is available via Illinois Wildflowers: Lilium superbum.

Botany / physics resource link: "Harvard researchers, captivated by a strange coiling behavior in the grasping tendrils of the cucumber plant, have characterized a new type of spring that is soft when pulled gently and stiff when pulled strongly". Read more about Clues in the Cucumber's Climb.

Jul 19, 2012: Tulipa 'Monsella'

Tulipa 'Monsella'

Bryant continues with his series on colours in plants. He writes:

A big thank you to James Gaither (J.G. in S.F.@Flickr) for contributing today's image of Tulipa 'Monsella'. Prior to reading The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan, the word "tulip" would make me cringe. It's hard to put my finger on why I disliked them, but it had something to do with how commonplace they are. However, when I look at how Tulipa became so widespread, I feel it is nothing less than extraordinary. It would be a travesty to do a series on colour and not mention the tulip!

Tulipa wild diversity is concentrated in the Tien Shan, Hindu Kush, and Pamir Mountains. In 1554, the first bulbs and seeds were shipped out of their native range to Vienna, where they soon became popular among gardeners. At the time, no flower in Europe demonstrated such highly saturated colours like those found in tulips, and people started to pay higher prices for vibrant varieties. This was the start of what is known as "tulip mania", which began in 1634 in the Netherlands. Tulip mania is now used as a prime example of an economic bubble, or when the price of an asset (such as a tulip) exceeds its intrinsic value. At the height of tulip mania, a single Tulipa 'Semper Augustus' bulb sold for the modern equivalent of roughly 10-15 million dollars! However, this craze didn't last long, and the end of tulip mania came rather abruptly in February of 1637, when buyers refused to show up to the flower auction in protest of the astronomical prices.

Tulipa 'Monsella', pictured above, is not unlike Tulipa 'Semper Augustus', as they both demonstrate a two-tone pattern. However the "broken pattern" in the 'Semper Augustus' tulip was caused by a virus, whereas modern variegated tulips that are commercially sold today are (almost?) exclusively created through intensive breeding regimes. To think that people valued the different colours of tulips so much that they were willing to pay the same price as what a mansion would cost seems absolutely ludicrous.

The Dutch continue to be one of the leaders in the tulip and cut-flower trade, with many global industry transactions occurring in the fifth largest building in the world in Aalsmeer, Netherlands. The floral industry is a multibillion dollar industry, based on a product whose primary asset is colour. In the words of Michael Pollan, "Flowers are exquisitely useless. They're this great froth of extravagance in our lives. But that there is a multibillion-dollar trade in these wonderful, useless, beautiful things is kind of great".

For more information of the tulip trade as well as a look at the industry from the tulip's perspective I highly recommend you read or watch The Botany of Desire, by Michael Pollan.

Apr 20, 2012: Prosartes maculata

Prosartes maculata

Today's image was taken earlier today by Tony Maniezzo, the North American Gardens Curator at UBC Botanical Garden. This spotted mandarin was photographed in the Nantahala National Forest of North Carolina, USA, during one of the last few walks of the trip we are leading. While we sometimes encountered its relative Prosartes lanuginosa (yellow mandarin) on other walks, this was the only time we observed this species. Most references to this species will suggest it is named Disporum maculatum, now considered a synonym.

Feb 22, 2012: Brodiaea coronaria subsp. coronaria

Brodiaea coronaria subsp. coronaria

I think I'll be able to start sharing some photographs from this year soon, as spring is on the early side locally (for now). This image is from last summer, in early July.

Crown brodiaea or harvest brodiaea is a 10-30(40) cm (4-12(16) in.) tall herbaceous perennial, associated in extreme southwest British Columbia with mesic to dry grassy slopes and rocky bluffs (with a few outliers). Its range extends south through Washington and Oregon into California.

A rare rosy-purple to rosy-flowered variant is recognized as Brodiaea coronaria subsp. rosea, found only in three localities in northwestern California. Photographs of both subspecies are available via Calphotos: Brodiaea coronaria.

Nov 9, 2010: Ornithogalum arabicum

Ornithogalum arabicum

Today's entry was written by Claire:

Our photograph today was provided by Sean Rangel of Seattle (aka SeanRangel@Flickr) via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Thank you Sean! Sean is also the photographer behind www.baublegraphy.com.

The common name of Ornithogalum arabicum is star of Bethlehem, named for the lovely white flowers this species produces. It belongs to the Asparagaceae (though listed as Liliaceae or Hyacinthaceae in references that use different family classifications). Its subfamily, Scilloideae, contains only herbaceous perennials with bulbs.

Though species of Ornithogalum are native to Eurasia and Africa, these monocots are popular ornamental plants around the world (the most commonly cultivated being Ornithogalum umbellatum, which sometimes escapes the garden and becomes an aggressive introduced species). Ornothogalum arabicum, itself native to Mediterranean areas, is one of about one hundred to one hundred and fifty species in this genus. Some members of the genus are edible, while others are toxic. For an edible example, young inflorescences of bath asparagus or Ornithogalum pyrenaicum can be eaten much like asparagus. However, Ornothogalum arabicum and other species contain toxins (often concentrated in the bulbs or the flowers) such as alkaloids and cardenolides (the same group of steroid toxins employed by monarch butterflies as a disincentive for predators or the heart block inducing poisons of Digitalis).

The delicate flowers of this species are fragrant and bee-pollinated. Local gardeners will be disappointed to learn that Ornithogalum arabicum is marginally hardy (at best) and enjoys low to moderate soil moisture with bright sunlight, making it a poor choice for growing outdoors in Vancouver.

For additional photographs of members of the genus, see Ornithogalum via the Pacific Bulb Society. A Close-up View of Three Ornithogalum Flowers provides an excellent photographs and photomicrographs.

Nov 5, 2010: Polygonatum biflorum

A brief entry written by Claire today:

Thank you to BlueRidgeKitties@Flickr for sharing some images of Polygonatum biflorum via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool (original 1 taken in mid-May and original 2 photographed in mid-July).

Smooth Solomon's seal is native to eastern North America, where it tends to grow in rich-soiled woods and thickets. The young shoots and roots can be boiled and eaten, but don't eat the berries as they are known to be poisonous!

More photographs are available via the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center's Native Plants Database: Polygonatum biflorum.

Jun 27, 2009: Calochortus superbus

Calochortus superbus

Today's Botany Photo of the Day was taken by Friend of the Garden Ian Gillam. He grows the flowers under cover at his Vancouver home. Steve Coughlin wrote the entry.

Calochortus, a genus of over 70 herbaceous species, derives its name from the Greek for "beautiful grass". The genus is a member of the lily family, and is renowned for its showy flowers, which rest elegantly atop single stems that rise from perennial bulbs. Calochortus species all have a single basal leaf, inflorescence-supporting bracts, and a perianth composed of three sepals and three petals. These petals and sepals vary from each other in terms of size and colour, and, in this, Calochortus is unique among members of Liliaceae. Though its occurrence seems to be centered in California, where 40 species grow in the wild, Calochortus is in fact quite widely distributed along the western coast of North America, extending from the southern parts of British Columbia through to the northern tip of Guatemala and as far east as the Dakotas. One species, Calochortus nuttallii, is the state flower of Utah.

Calochortus superbus —the species featured in the striking chiaroscuro of today's photo—was first collected in California's Yosemite Valley in the early years of the 20th century. This non-invasive species—commonly called the superb mariposa lily—is endemic to California, where it grows in open meadows, valley grasslands, and foothill woodlands. Generally reaching a height of 40-60 centimetres, C. superbus flowers in late spring and early summer, and enjoys full sun and well-drained soil. Though the plant goes dormant in the summer, it is hardy to zones 7 through 11 and can survive at fairly high altitudes as well (up to 2400 metres). The stems generally bear 1 to 3 upright flowers that take the shape of a small cup; each of the overlapping petals is blotched at the base with a chevron of deep purple or brown surrounded by vivid yellow, though the species exhibits a broad diversity of colour. The exterior of the petals is generally the same colour as the interior, and, as if to pique the curiosity of passersby, it displays a faint, alluring shadow of the intricate internal design.


Gerriten, Mary and Ron Parsons. Calochortus: Mariposa Lilies and their Relatives. Portland: Timber Press, 2007.

Apr 18, 2007: Erythronium americanum

Erythronium americanum

Another thank you to David Smith of Delaware for sharing a photograph with us of one of Delaware's native wildflowers (posted in this thread on the BPotD Submissions forum). Appreciated once again, David.

Common names for this eastern North American species include trout lily, American adder's tongue (a reference to the leaves) and dogtooth violet (a reference to the bulbs); an expanded explanation of the common names can be found on the Kemper Center for Home Gardening page for the plant.

Like many woodland understorey plants in eastern North America, Erythronium americanum produces leaves and flowers early in the spring, prior to the canopy trees flushing with leaves. This temporal adaptation is a method to maximize growth when light is most available to the plant, despite the cool temperatures associated with early spring. As it turns out, though, plant growth is optimal at cooler temperature regimes: see Lapointe, L and Lerat S. 2006. Annual growth of the spring ephemeral Erythronium americanum as a function of temperature and mycorrhizal status. Canadian Journal of Botany. 84:39-48. The researchers found that bulb biomass was increased for the set of plants exposed to a lower temperature regime (and that net nutrient uptake was not reduced for this set).

A scientific description of the genus Erythronium and Erythronium americanum can be found in the Flora of North America, while Missouri Plants has more photographs of the species and a shorter description.

Botany / horticulture resource link: I've linked to this site in a few previous entries, but not as a resource link – California Rare Fruit Growers “is the largest amateur fruit-growing organization in the world”. That 2007 Festival of the Fruit in San Diego is looking very appealing...! The site provides a number of excellent resources, including fruit factsheets.

Apr 17, 2007: Tulipa 'Ile de France'

Tulipa 'Ile de France'

A change of plans on the weekend yielded an opportunity to attend the 24th Annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival near the Mount Vernon / Burlington area of Washington. Fortune favoured me for once, and I toured while the flowers were at their peak. Tulipa 'Ile de France' was one of about four dozen cultivars of tulips that could be seen in the fields, bordered by hundreds of people. Though I didn't photograph during my preferred times of the day (i.e., early morning and late evening), the weather was in my favour – cloudy with sunny breaks provided light that was suitable for midday photography as it gave a changing environment of soft diffuse light and harsh direct light. The latter is usually not so desirable, but with tulips, it is an opportunity to take photographs with backlighting. Today's photograph is one of 381 that survived my first round of discarding lower-quality shots.

'Ile de France' is a multi-use tulip; it is suitable for cut flowers, bedding plantings or container plantings. It was my favourite of the day; since the bulbs can be planted close together, the effect of the mass planting was a solid ribbon of red which I found very appealing (other cultivars require more space between individuals, so the en masse colouration was not as dense).

Although some of the tulips in the fields are sold as cut flowers, much of the field production of tulips in this instance are sold as bulbs.


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