Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lilium formosanum

Modern hybrid garden lilies can be spectacular, sometimes overwhelmingly so. Wild lilies on the other hand are more apt to appeal for their grace and elegance. The plant shown above is Lilium formosanum, a native of Taiwan (or as it was often called in the past, Formosa). This lily has naturalized in southern Africa and in Australia, and self-sown seedlings sometimes appear in our gardens, too. It will bloom within a year from seed, and varies in height from 18 inches or so up to over six feet.

In contrast to garden lilies, wild lilies are often characterized by an extreme economy of substance: the leaves and stems are, as it were, no bigger or thicker than they absolutely have to be.  Lilium formosanum is a good example of this: compare its slender, lithe growth  to the comparatively stout form of the cultivated forms of the similar Lilium longiflorum.

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