Wild Lily: L. henryi Baker 1888

A hardy, indestructible lily, with large, orange, Martagon flowers, from the central Chinese mountains (Hupeh, Kwcichow).

Although it bears only one to three flowers in its natural habitat, between 10 and 20 blooms, displayed on a stem 5-8 feet tall, are obtained under cultivation. The large, spherical bulb increases to fist size with age, turns dark-purple when exposed to the light, and produces strong

and deep-reaching roots. The strong, slightly arching, purple-brown stem is covered with numerous fairly broad, dark-green leaves. Raceme inflorescence, horizontal or slightly upward tilted pedicels often carry two heavily brown-spotted, orange flowers of Martagon type – some with prominent papillae and green nectary furrows. The pollen is orange, and the flowering period extends from the end of July to August.

The shape of the seed capsules resembles that of inverted skittles; the seeds are large and brown, and germinate quickly, but are best sown immediately after being harvested. Bulblets are freely produced on the underground stem of this stem-rooting lily, but if the bulbs are planted lying on their side the production of daughter bulbs is even more prolific. A virtually indestructible and long-living plant which likes to have its bulb planted deeply in calcareous soils without the addition of peat.

Augustine Henry, who in later life became a professor of forestry, was the first to discover L. henryi in China.

L. henryi var. citrinum is a mutation with lemon-yellow flowers later than the type.

L. henryi Improved reproduces true from seed. Stiff, upright stem; first entered commerce from the United States.

L. henryi var. citrinum and L. henryi Improved are ideal parent material for hybrid production, the first on account of its lemon-yellow colour, the second because of its upright and stiff stem.

L. henryi has been used a great deal for breeding with L. sulphurenni (T. A. Havemeyer), with L. sargentiac (Aurelian hybrids) and with L. speciosum (Black Beaut)).

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