Wild Lily: L. longiflorum Thunberg 1794, Easter Lily

Named Easter Lily in the United States, where millions are annually raised for sale as pot plants around Easter. Like L. alexatidrae and L. nobilissinunn, it comes from the Japanese Ryukyu Islands (particularly the islands of Okinawa, Oshima, Takushima, and Kawanabe), where it grows in humus pockets between coral near the sea. L. longiflorwn was brought to England in 1819, and was propagated on a large scale in Bermuda throughout the second half of the nineteenth century until severe outbreaks of virus put an end to production. Japan then continued to provide supplies, and delivered 26 million bulbs annually until the outbreak of the Second World War, when production again moved, this time to the United States, particularly Oregon. (37,38)

The bulbs, 2-2f inches, are spherical and white-yellow. Stems 1-3 feet long, with many tightly crowded, broad-lanceolate leaves, carry one or more horizontal, pure-white, long, funnel-shaped blooms, size 5-7 inches. The pollen is yellow and the seed germinates quickly. Provided the climatic conditions are ideal, flowers can be produced within six months from seedling stage. L. loiigiflonnn does not last very many years when grown in the open in Europe, and is best treated as an indoor pot plant. Flowers from August to September. Prolific producer of bulblets.

This lily has many forms, some of which have been specially raised and selected for quick maturity to meet commercial needs.

L. longiflorum Creole is a clone propagated in the New Orleans area for cut-flower production; grows taller than other forms.

L. longifloriun Croft, another clone. Only 6 inches-2 feet tall and mostly used for potting in the United States. Introduced by Sydney N. Croft in 1928 and propagated on a massive scale.

L. longiflorum Estate, again a clone from S. N. Croft, raised from Croft; although a little taller, it is mostly used for cut-flower production.

L. longiflorum Slocums Ace was discovered in a garden by Clark Slocum of Longlois in 1935. Ace is only exceeded by Croft, as far as its use as an Easter Lily is concerned, and differs from the other clones, as the width of the funnel-shaped flowers exceeds their length. Other forms have either been superseded or are confined to certain regions, as for instance in Holland, where the taller-growing Holland’s Glory and White Queen are preferred. Dr S. L. Emsweller of the us Department of Agriculture, made a close study of the production of the Easter Lily and conducted a scries of strictly controlled experiments in multiplication, disease resistance, propagation, etc. Bermuda produces perfume from this lily.

L. longiflorum Tetrabel. Colchicine treatments carried out by Dr S. L. Emsweller enabled him to introduce three tetraploid clones of L. longiflorum (211 = 48). Tetrabel was raised in England from tetraploid seed and produced triploid hybrids when crossed with L. formosanum. (RHS-LYB 1957, NALS-LYB 1964)

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