Lilies 1

Orange Day-lily Eastern Gladiolus Peruvian Lily Powell's Cape-lily

What are they?

The name 'lily' has become attached to a wide and diverse number of plant species, some of which truly are lilies (i.e. that are in the Liliaceae) and some that are not. This page brings together a range of plants that might be identified by the observer as a lily to help with the identification process. Some species here grow from bulbs, typically producing a single stem with flowers at the top and a single set of leaves (the leaves might not appear at the same time of year as the flower). Other species here have creeping root systems that spread to form clumps or colonies of flowering stems and leafy crowns. In reality, none of the plants on this page are truly lilies, but they share features common to many monocotyledonous plants; most have long, slender leaves with parallel veins and the flowers don't have the familiar small green sepals and large coloured petals of most plants. Instead they have sepals and petals that are often more or less the same and which are referred to as tepals. The tepals will be seen to be arranged in two rows of three to form what appears to be a six petalled flower. These parts may be fused into a tube at the base or may be free.

This page covers lily-like plants with orange, yellow, pink or red flowers. For lily-like plants with blue or white flowers, click here

Where are they found?

We have no native species in our area in this group, so any plant found is likely to have originated as a garden escape or throw-out. As such, rough ground, grassy places and roadsides are typical locations but odd, single plants may show up almost anywhere and some can persist for many years.

Identification

As this is a rather diverse group of sometimes unrelated species, there are a number of useful characters for identification. Start by noting if your plant appears to be a single stem arising from a bulb, or whether it has a typical root system and may be spreading to form patches of vegetation. Type of leaf is useful (usually narrow and grass-like or broad and sword-like) then the shape, structure and colour of the flower - though flower colour can be extremely variable in some of the species.



Bowden's Lily      Nerine bowdenii

Introduced from South Africa as a garden ornamental. Occasionally found where persisting from dumped garden waste or where planted on roadsides. Flowers late September to early November. Flowers brilliant pink or sometimes white. Stigma and stamen very long with upturned tips. Grows from bulbs that eventually produce close clusters of bulbs which often stand proud of the soil surface.

Bowden's Lily Bowden's Lily Bowden's Lily Bowden's Lily
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Powell's Cape-lily      Crinum x powellii

A horticultural hybrid between two South African species. Rare outside of gardens but long-known from an abandoned garden site in Suffolk. Flowers August to September. Flowers pale pink or sometimes white. Bulbs large, producing flowering stems to a metre in height. Leaves broad and keeled.

Powell's Cape-lily Powell's Cape-lily Powell's Cape-lily
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Eastern Gladiolus      Gladiolus communis

Introduced from southern Europe as an ornamental and for cut flowers. Persistent in a handful of locations in Suffolk. Flowers June to August. Flowers pink to magenta. Leaves flattened, sword-like and held vertically. There are other species of gladiolus that are sometimes grown in gardens and which are very similar to Eastern Gladiolus. As none of these have yet been recorded in our region they are not included here but they should be borne in mind. Details of the number of flowers per spike and the length of the anthers relative to their filaments are important but the taxonomy of plants in cultivation (which may in any case be hybrids) is probably not fully understood and some plants may be unidentifiable to species or cultivar.

Eastern Gladiolus Eastern Gladiolus Eastern Gladiolus Eastern Gladiolus
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Large-flowered Gladiolus      Gladiolus x hortulanus

Originated in cultivation. Widely grown in gardens and allotments and occasionally found on rough ground in urban areas. Flowers June to August. The flowers are larger and broader-petalled than those of the species gladioli and come in a wide variety of colours from dark maroon to white, via yellows, pinks and reds.

Large-flowered Gladiolus Large-flowered Gladiolus Large-flowered Gladiolus
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Orange Day-lily      Hemerocallis fulva

Introduced from Asia as a garden ornamental. Occasionally found where persisting from dumped garden waste or where planted on roadsides. Flowers June to August. A perennial from a creeping root system which spreads to form colonies of leaf rosettes with keeled leaves.

Orange Day-lily Orange Day-lily Orange Day-lily Orange Day-lily
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Montbretia      Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora

A hybrid of garden origin. Occasionally found where persisting from dumped garden waste or where planted on roadsides; uncommon but may become more frequent. Plentiful and spreading invasively in the southwest of England. Flowers September to early November. Flowers brilliant orange, arranged in a two-sided spike. Produces large clumps of leaves, which are flattened and sword-like.

Montbretia Montbretia Montbretia Montbretia
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Peruvian Lily      Alstroemeria aurea

Introduced from Chile as a garden ornamental. Recorded as a garden escape on a couple of occasions. Flowers June to August or later in mild weather. The flowers may be yellow, orange, pink or white and often with dark streaks on the upper tepal. Leaves simple, narrowed at the base and often twisted. Forms small colonies from spreading root systems.

Peruvian Lily Peruvian Lily Peruvian Lily Peruvian Lily
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