American Lily hybrids

These are divided into three groups, according to parents’ place of origin: 1. The lilies from eastern America – L. canadense, L. niichiganense, L. pliiladelphiann, L. michanxii, L. grayi, L. catcshaei, L. iridollae 2. The land-type lilies from western America – L. washingtoniannni, L. albescens, L. kelloggii, L. cohinibiannm, L. hnmboldtii, L. ocellatnin, L. bolanderi, L. parryi 3. The bog-type lilies – L. pardalinnni, L. vollnteri, L. occidentale, L. niaritinmm, L. nevadense, L. wigginsii, L. harrisiannm, L. pitkinense, L. kelleyamim

Luther Burbank had already crossed various American wild lilies, but the only result of his large-scale work still left today is L. x burbankii (L. parryi x L. pardalinum), which entered commerce in 1901, followed by L. x pardaboldtii in 1907.

The first big step forward in bringing American lily hybrids onto the market was made with the introduction of the Bellingham hybrids. The seed originated from Robert Kesslcr, of Los Angeles, who crossed L. liinnboldtii var. ocellatiini, L. pardalimtm, and L. parryi with one another. David Griffiths, of the Plant Industry Station, Bellingham, Washington, raised 3,000 plants from them before selecting just 10 clones for commercial release in 1924. Three of the 10 hybrids with L. parryi blood soon disappeared. Of the remaining seven arising from L. pardalinum x L. humboldtii only Shuksan is still with us today; the remainder – mixed and further selected – form the basis of today’s Bellingham hybrids. Jan de GraafFalso markets the hybrids Afterglow and Buttercup. All these lilies are strong growers, reach a height of 5 feet, bear fresh green leaves in whorls, are racemose, and have strongly recurved, nodding, Turk’s Cap flowers supported by elegant, erect pedicels. If L. parryi is in the cross, the basic colour is usually strong yellow or orange, or heavily brown-spotted, sharp lemon-yellow. Some varieties have only their petal tips tinted with carmine, in others the carmine spreads over more than half the segment area. They are vigorous lilies, lime-haters, prefer damp situations in half-shade, multiply well, and flower profusely. (6, 8)

Eric Mayell bred the thriving, delicately coloured, red, pink and mauve-shaded Monterey hybrids from L. pitkinense (discovered less than 20 years ago) and L. kelloggii. The Pitkinense hybrids bred by A. D. Rothman, of Rhincbcck, New York, with rhizomes of such giant proportions that only an axe will divide them, arose from a cross between a scarlet-flowering L. x burbankii hybrid and L. pitkinense. Pendulous, slightly recurved flowers of a rare magenta shade are the result of a L. pardalinum x L. bolanderi cross – the best of these hybrids is Henry Bolander (RHS-LYB 1960, p. 149).

O. E. P. Wyatt, formerly of Maidwell Hall, Northampton, England, has devoted himself to the cross-fertilization of North American lilies, and has bred the densely yellow L. nevadense x L. parryi hybrids

Yellow Maid and Bridesmaid, and another L. parryi hybrid, Sir Lancelot. Further work with L. parryi crosses gave a particularly good-looking and graceful yellow lily with flat, wide-open, nodding flowers which H. R. Baar named after Oliver Wyatt. (62)

The pale-yellow Index, Comtance and Elinor hybrids from S. L. Shride, of Seattle, Washington, can certainly not belie their L. parryi origin – they were bred after the Second World War and only after several crosses between L. Shuksan and L. parryi.

Wade Sturgeon, of Scbastopol, Oregon, raised several hybrids from a L. rubescens x L. coliinibianiini cross.

Dr A. M. Showalter, of Harrisonburg, Virginia, collected American lilies and bred many varieties from them. He raised two hybrids by crossing L. canadensc with L. inichiganense and L. micliauxii, winch produced Carolina Bells. A cross between Carolina Bells and L. harrisianuni can lead to further useful hybrids, but crosses of L. niichauxii with L. michiganense or with L. superbnm gave only weak and poor-looking plants. The L. x harrichauxii hybrids, bred by Ralph Warner from L. harrisianuni x L. niichauxii, are fertile, and set seed if cross-pollinated with L. niichauxii, L. harrisianuni, L. canadensc, and other hybrids from this group. L. canadensc also proves fertile with L. davidii var. wilhnottiae pollen, and produces seedlings which clearly indicate the L. davidii var. willmottiae parentage; the seedlings can also be back-crossed with L. davidii var. willmottiae (NALS-LYB 1960,1961, 1964, RHS-LYB 1965).

Not to be forgotten are the results which F. L. Skinner, of Dropmorc, Canada, achieved in the 1920s with L. philadelphicuni and L. dauricum, two lilies with cup-shaped flowers, the one from North America, the other from Siberia and East Asia; nor his umbellate, saucer-shaped lilies -orange, Skinner’s Orange, red and gold, L. x phildauricuni; and shiny red Philada. This last lily is apparently no longer available.

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