Wild Lily: L. canadense Linnaeus 1753, Canada Lily

An American lily first brought to Europe in 1620, described by Parkinson in 1629 and named by Linnaeus in 1753. Native over a wide range of North America from the 50th Parallel in the north to the 35 th in the south, but only east of the Rocky Mountains. As its American name, Meadow Lily, implies it prefers damp meadows and grassy situations along dykes, road verges and railway banks, as well as light woodland.

The fleshy rhizomes continuously build new bulbs from which, during the following year, grow stems 2-5 feet high covered with leaves in whorls. The long and gracefully arched pedicels end in up to 20

pendant blooms during June/July. They are usually yellow with black-purple spots, of Turk’s Cap type with slightly reflexed petals, forming an elegant bell shape. An aesthetic feast!

The Canada Lily requires damp, acid, well-drained soils of sandy loam with ample peat. A layer of rubble below soil level assists drainage. Seeds germinate slowly, and plants raised from them flower after three or four years. Cross-pollination between the various forms of L. canadense is, of course, possible, as it is with L. snperbnni, L. michiganense, L. michauxii and L. cohnnbiaiium – an obvious reason for the existence of such a large number of variants.

L. canadense var. coccineum has a heavily spotted, dark brick-red flower with yellow throat.

L. canadense var. editorium is confined to the dry Appalachian mountain regions, and distinguished from other types by its broader leaves and more beautiful red flowers.

L. canadense var. jlav0-rubmni. Spotted, dccp-orange-coloured flowers with yellow throat; speckled.

L. canadense var. flavwn is the most widely distributed variety of this species, with chocolate-coloured speckles on pure-yellow flowers.

L. canadense var. inniiaculatnm. Unspotted light cadmium-yellow blooms. Mrs J. Norman Henry collected a whole range of them for planting in her Pennsylvania garden.

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