Wild Lily: L. davidii Duchartre 1877

Armand David, after whom this lily is named, was a French missionary who collected its bulbs in Szcchwan, China, and sent them to Paris in 1869. It is distributed throughout western Szechwan and north-western Yunnan, where it is cultivated as a vegetable and grows at heights of 5,000-10,000 feet, L. davidii is one of the most beautiful Martagon lilies, with a stiff, erect stem, bearing upright to horizontally held leaves with slightly inrolled margins on the lower parts, and an impressive pyramidal head of flowers with horizontal pedicels, which often carry from six to 20 and even up to 40 flowers. They are vermilion to scarlet-red, spotted black in the centre and without scent; the pollen is scarlet. The leaves, 3-4 ½ inches long and f-1 inch wide, have hispid margins, the stem and buds are often hairy. The white bulb, 1 ½ -2 inches, assumes shades of red when exposed to the air and is usually broader than it is high. Rich supply of seed in the elongated, round seed capsules. Quick germination. Easy to grow in most types of garden soils. As a result of crosses with var. unicolor and var. willmottiae and also selection, more profusely flowering plants, with larger blooms, and even secondary flowers on the same pedicels, have been produced.

L. davidii var. macrantlium Rafill 1938. Stem up to 5 feet tall with two to three orange flowers per pedicel.

L. davidii var. unicolor Cotton 1938. Introduced into Italy by the Italian missionary Giraldi as L. biondii in 1895; the Dutch knew it as L. wiUmottiae var. unicolor and the English as L. sutchucnense. Weaker than the original type, it barely reaches 3 feet in height and carries only 10-15 pale orange-red flowers weakly spotted with red; seedlings are similar. Grows in every type of soil.

L. davidii var. wiUmottiae Rafill 1938. A very elegant lily, on the whole similar to type, more wiry stem, longer but gracefully upward arched, and closer-spaced pedicels, longer, broader and also more closely spaced leaves, smooth stem and buds. Chestnut-spotted, orange-red flowers. After the main stem emerges from the bulb, it sometimes wanders about below ground level and produces bulblets on the internodes. The cylindrically shaped seed capsules have rounded ends, and provided pollination is satisfactory, produce an abundant supply of seed. Rapid germination. Alexander Steffen, of Erfurt, Germany, selected a much improved, richly flowering and strong-growing type which Pfitzer of Stuttgart, Germany, introduced into commerce. Improved forms also exist in both Holland and England. Suitable for cutting.

Although first discovered as early as 1868 by A. Henry and Pere Farges, it was not until 1908, when E. H. Wilson sent bulbs to America and England, that its distribution was increased. A good garden-type lily, amenable to all kinds of soils, which can be multiplied without difficulty from cither seed or daughter bulbs. It comes from the mountainous Chinese provinces of western Hupeh, eastern Szcchwan, and southern Shensi, growing at heights of 4,000-8,000 feet, (RHS-LYB 1949)

L. davidii Maxwill. Dr F. L. Skinner is responsible for this variety, which arose in 1928 from a cross between L. davidii var. willmottiae and L. leichtlinii var. maximowiczii, or possibly L. davidii. Its stem, as strong as that of L. davidii, bears a beautiful pyramidal inflorescence. Its stiff stem, strong growing habit, and profuse flowering ability make it a particularly good lily for use as parent material.

Hybrids of L. davidii and the var. willmottiac have been produced with L. bulbiferum var. croceum, L. cerimum, L. dauricum, L. ainabile, and L. tigrinttm. The Preston hybrids were bred by crossing the hybrids L. dauricum x L. x maculatum with L. davidii var. willmottiae. Dropmore Gold, Lady Lou, and Lemon Lady are hybrids or selections of L. davidii, bred by Dr Skinner.

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