Wild Lily: L. bulbiferum Linnaeus 1753, Fire Lily

This famous European lily was already known to sixteenth-century writers of old herbals, and illustrated in woodcuts: Leonard Fuchs, 1542, or Hieronymus Bock, 1546, described it as ‘Goldt Gilg’. Two forms are, however, known under the name L. bulbiferum – the typical axil bulbil producing L. bulbifewm; and var. croceum which lacks this characteristic – but even then the two species overlap and some plants under

exceptional circumstances, particularly if their main shoot has been damaged, produce axil bulbils nevertheless. The distribution areas also overlap.

L. bulbiferum var. chaixii. A dwarf variety with red-tipped orange flowers from the French Maritime Alps (Var valley, Val di Minera). (RHS-LYB 1957).

L. bulbiferutn var. crocemn. Described as a variety by Woodcock and Steam, it extends north and southwards from its native Alps. It likes the Fohn-swcpt valleys of the northern Alps and is also found in Austrian Carinthia and Tyrol, Switzerland, eastern France, northern and central Italy and Corsica – usually among rocks, in fields and on stone spoil heaps.

Stronger in appearance than typicum, with yellow-orange, less red, heavily brown-spotted blooms. According to Hegi the upper surface of the segments is not shiny as the type, but papillose and therefore dull.

L. bulbiferum var. giganteum is a particularly large variety, 5-6 feet tall, occurring chiefly south of Naples, on the Vesuvius and Cigliano craters.

L. bulbiferum var. typicum. Now very rare, but occasionally found in upper Bavaria, Thuringia, and the Erz and Adler Mountains.

Round, white bulb; 2-4 foot stem with numerous lanceolate leaves; bulbils form in the upper leaf axils during the summer.

The erect, orange-yellow, saucer-shaped flowers, up to 20 in number, have slightly spotted, red-orange petal tips, and are borne in an umbel. Stem-rooter, round seed capsule.

Has been crossed with L. x maculatum, L. x hollandiciim, L. davidii, L. concolor, L. tnonadelphum and L. pumilum.

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