September 19, 2017

Lily Fair

Lilium philadelphicum - Wood lily

Lilium philadelphicum - Wood lily | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Lilium philadelphicum is more than just a pretty face. According to Go Botany, the wood lily is considered North America’s “most wide-ranging true lily.” But in the Northeast, this perennial herb is on the decline as habitat has disappeared and white-tailed deer populations have risen. The deer, you see, like to eat it. The bulb was also a food source for native Americans, according to the “National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers.” Wood lily, so called because of its preferred habitat of dry, open woods, can reach up to 3 feet in height and blossoms a reddish orange with purple blotches on the tepals with up to five blooms per stem. In New England, according to Go Botany, the plant is pollinated by tiger swallowtail butterflies.

Wild Wednesday is a collaboration of Garden Maine and Glen Mittelhauser of the nonprofit Maine Natural History Observatory, www.mainenaturalhistory.org.