LILY, Lilium, the typical genus of the botanical order Liliaceae, embracing nearly eighty species, all confined to the northern hemisphere, and widely distributed throughout the north temperate zone. The earliest in cultivation were described in 1597 by Gerard (Herball, p. 146), who figures eight kinds of true lilies, which include L. album (L. candidum) and a variety, bizantinum, two umbellate forms of the type L. bulbiferum, named L. aureum and L. cruentum latifolium, and three with pendulous flowers, apparently forms of the martagon lily. Parkinson, in his Paradisus (1629), described five varieties of martagon, six of umbellate kinds two white ones, and L. pomponium, L. chalcedonicum, L. carniolicum and L. pyrenaicum together with one American, L. canadense, which had been introduced in 1629. For the ancient and medieval history of the lily, see M. de Cannart d'Hamale's Monographic historique etlitterairedeslis (Malines, 1870). Since that period many new species have been added. The latest authorities for description and classification of the genus are J. G. Baker (" Revision of the Genera and Species of Tulipeae," Journ. of Linn. Soc. xiv. p. 211, 1874), and J. H. Elwes (Monograph of the Genus Lilium, 1880), who first tested all the species under cultivation, and has published every one beautifully figured by W. H. Fitch, and some hybrids. With respect to the production of hybrids, the genus is remarkable for its power of resisting the influence of foreign pollen, for the seedlings of any species, when crossed, generally resemble that which bears them. A good account of the new species and principal varieties discovered since 1880, with much information on the cultivation of lilies and the diseases to which they are subject, will be found in the report of the Conference on Lilies, in the Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society, 1901. The new species include a number discovered in central and western China by Dr Augustine Henry and other collectors; also several from Japan and California.
The structure of the flower represents the simple type of monocotyledons, consisting of two whorls of petals, of three free parts each, six free stamens, and a consolidated pistil of three carpels, ripening into a three-valved capsule containing many winged seeds. In form, the flower assumes three types: trumpet-shaped, with a more or less elongated tube, e.g. L. longiflorum and L. candidum; an open form with spreading perianth leaves, e.g. L. auratum; or assuming a pendulous habit, with the tips strongly reflexed, e.g. the martagon type. All have scaly bulbs, which in three west American species, as L. Humboldti, are remarkable for being somewhat intermediate between a bulb and a creeping rhizome. L. bulbiferum and its allies produce aerial reproductive bulbils in the axils of the leaves. The bulbs of several species are eaten, such as of L. avenaceum in Kamchatka, of L. Martagon by the Cossacks, and of L. tigrinum, the " tiger lily," in China and Japan. Medicinal uses were ascribed to the species, but none appear to have any marked properties in this respect.
The~white lily, L. candidum, the \elpiov of the Greeks, was one of the commonest garden flowers of antiquity, appearing in the poets from Homer downwards side by side with the rose and the violet. According to Hehn, roses and lilies entered Greece from the east by way of Phrygia, Thrace and Macedonia (Kulturpflanzen und Hausthiere, 3rd ed., p. 217). The word \tlpwv itself, from which lilium is derived by assimilation of consonants, appears to be Eranian (Ibid. p. 527), and according to ancient etymologists (Lagarde, Ges. Abh. p. 227) the town of Susa was connected with the Persian name of the lily susan (Gr. aovaov, Heb. shdshan). Mythologically the white lily, Rosa Junonis, was fabled to have sprung from the milk of Hera. As the plant of purity it was contrasted with the rose of Aphrodite. The word uplvov, on the other hand, included red and purple lilies, Plin. H.N. xxi. 5 (n, 12), the red lily being best known in Syria and Judaea (Phaselis). This perhaps is the " red lily of Constantinople " of Gerard, L. chalcedonicum. The lily of the Old Testament (sh6shan) may be conjectured to be a red lily from the simile in Cant. v. 13, unless the allusion is to the fragrance rather than the colour of the lips, in which case the white lily must be thought of. The " lilies of the field," Matt. vi. 28, are xptva, and the comparison of their beauty with royal robes suggests their identification with the red Syrian lily of Pliny. Lilies, however, are not a conspicuous feature in the flora cf Palestine, and the red anemone (Anemone coronaria), with which all the hill-sides of Galilee are dotted in the spring, is perhaps more likely to have suggested the figure. For the lily in the pharmacopoeia of the ancients see Adams's Paul. Aegineta, iii. 196. It was used in unguents and against the bites of snakes, etc. In the middle ages the flower continued to be common and was taken as the symbol of heavenly purity. The three golden lilies of France are said to have been originally three lance-heads.
Lily of the valley, Convallaria majalis, belongs to a different tribe (Asparagoideae) of the same order. It grows wild in woods in some parts of England, and in Europe, northern Asia and the Alleghany Mountains of North America. The leaves and flower-scapes spring from an underground creeping stem. The small pendulous bellshaped flowers contain no honey but are visited by bees for the pollen.
The word " lily " is loosely used in connexion with many plants which are not really liliums at all, but belong to genera which are Madonna or White Lily (Lilium candidum). About i nat. size.
quite distinct botanically. Thus, the Lent lily is Narcissus Pseudonarcissus; the African lily is Agapanthus umbettatus ; the Belladonna lily is AmaryKis Belladonna (q.y.) ; the Jacobaea lily is Sprekelia formosissima; the Mariposa lily is Galochortus ; the lily of the Incas is Alstroemeria pelegrina; St Bernard's lily is Anthericum Liliago; St Bruno's lily is Anthericum (or Paradisia) Liliastrum; the water lily is Nymphaea alba; the Arum lily is Richardia africana; and there are many others.
The true lilies are so numerous and varied that no general cultural instructions will be alike suitable to all. Some species, as L. Martagon, candidum, chalcedonicum, Szovitzianum (or colchicum), bulbiferum, croceum, Henryi, pomponium the " Turk's cap lily," and others, will grow in almost any good garden soil, and succeed admirably in loam of a rather heavy character, and dislike too much peat. But a compost of peat, loam and leaf-soil suits L. auratum, Brownii, concolor, elegans, giganteum, japonicum, longiflorum, monadelphum, pardalinum, speciosum, and the tiger lily (L. tigrinum) well, and a larger proportion of peat is indispensable for the beautiful American L. superbum and canadense. The margin of rhododendron beds, where there are sheltered recesses amongst the plants, suits many of the more delicate species well, partial shade Lily of the Valley (Comiallaria majalis). About i nat. size.
and shelter of some kind being essential. The bulbs should be planted from 6 to 10 in. (according to size) below the surface, which should at once be mulched over with half-decayed leaves or coconut fibre to keep out frost.
The noble L. auratum, with its large white flowers, having a yellow band and numerous red or purple spots, is a magnificent plant when grown to perfection; and so are the varieties called rubro-vittatum and cruentum, which have the central band crimson instead of yellow; and the broad-petalled platyphyllum, and its almost pure white sub-variety called virginale. Of L. speciosum (well known to most gardeners as lancifolium), the true typical form and the red-spotted and white varieties are grand plants for late summer blooming in the conservatory. The tiger lily, L. tigrinum, and its varieties Fortunei, splendidum and flore-pleno, are amongst the best species for the flower garden; L. Thunbergianum and its many varieties being also good border flowers. The pretty L. Leichtlinii and L. colchicum (or Szovitzianum) with drooping yellow flowers and the scarlet drooping-flowered L. tenuifolium make up, with those already mentioned, a series of the finest hardy flowers of the summer garden. The Indian L. giganteum is perfectly distinct in character, having broad heart-shaped leaves, and a noble stem 10 to 14 ft. high, bearing a dozen or more large deflexed,_ funnelshaped, white, purple-stained flowers; L. cordifolium (China and Japan) is similar in character, but dwarfer in habit.
For pot culture, the soil should consist of three parts turfy loam to one of leaf-mould and thoroughly rotted manure, adding enough pure grit to keep the compost porous. If leaf -mould is not at hand, turfy peat may be substituted for it. The plants should be potted in October. The pots should be plunged in a cold frame and protected from frost, and about May may be removed to a sheltered and moderately shady place out-doors to remain till they flower, when they may be removed to the greenhouse. This treatment suits the gorgeous L. auratum, the splendid varieties of L. speciosum ( lancifolium) and also the chaste-flowering trumpet-tubed L. longiflorum and its varieties. Thousands of bulbs of such lilies as longiflorum and speciosum are now retarded in refrigerators and taken out in batches for greenhouse work as required.
Diseases. Lilies are, under certain conditions favourable to the development of the disease, liable to the attacks of three parasitic fungi. The most destructive is Botrytis cinerea which forms orangebrown or buff specks on the stems, pedicels, leaves and flower-buds, which increase in size and become covered with a delicate grey mould, completely destroying or disfiguring the parts attacked. The spores formed on the delicate grey mould are carried during the summer from one plant to another, thus spreading the disease, and also germinate in the soil where the fungus may remain passive during the winter producing a new crop of spores next spring, or sometimes attacking the scales of the bulbs forming small black hard bodies embedded in the flesh. For prevention, the surface soil covering bulbs should be removed every autumn and replaced by soil mixed with kainit; manure for mulching should also be mixed with kainit, which acts as a steriliser. If the fungus appears on the foliage spray with potassium sulphide solution (2 oz. in 3 gallons of water). Uromyces Erythronii, a rust, sometimes causes considerable injury to the foliage of species of Lilium and other bulbous plants, forming large discoloured blotches on the leaves. The diseased stems should be removed and burned before the leaves fall; as the bulb is not attacked the plant will start growth next season free from disease. Rhizopus necans is sometimes the cause of extensive destruction of bulbs. The fungus attacks injured roots and afterwards passes into the bulb which becomes brown and finally rots. The fungus hibernates in the soil and enters through broken or injured roots, hence care should be taken when removing the bulbs that the roots are injured as little as possible. An excellent packing material for dormant buds is coarsely crushed woodcharcoal to which has been added a sprinkling of flowers of sulphur. This prevents infection from outside and also destroys any spores or fungus mycelium that may have been packed away along with the bulbs.
When cultivated in greenhouses liliums are subject to attack from aphides (green fly) in the early stages of growth. These pests can be kept in check by syringing with nicotine, soft-soap and quassia solutions, or by " vaporising " two or three evenings in succession, afterwards syringing the plants with clear tepid water.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)