Lilies 2

Spring Starflower Madonna Lily African Lily Spring Starflower

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. Not all 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 blue or white flowers. For lily-like plants with orange, yellow, pink or red 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.



African Lily      Agapanthus praecox

Introduced from South Africa as a garden ornamental. Occasionally found where persisting from dumped garden waste or where planted on roadsides. Flowers July to early September. Flowers rich blue but sometimes white. Flowers held in large clusters in a rounded ball at the top of a leafless stem that grows up to a metre in height. Leaves long-linear, not keeled, forming evergreen clumps from a tuberous rhizome.

African Lily African Lily African Lily African Lily
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Triplet Lily      Triteleia laxa

Introduced from North America as a garden ornamental. Recently found persisting in coastal grassland on the North Norfolk coast. Flowers June to August. Flowers in small clusters arising from a common point at the top of the main stem, each flower then on a long, thin stalk. Leaves arising from a garlic-scented bulb, long-linear, not keeled, appearing in spring but gone by flowering time.

Triplet Lily Triplet Lily Triplet Lily Triplet Lily
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Spring Starflower      Tristagma uniflorum

Introduced from South America as a garden ornamental. Can spread agressively in gardens and so is often a constituent of dumped garden waste, from where it might spread on roadside verges and on rough ground. Flowers April to May. Flowers lilac-tinted, becoming white with age. Leaves arising from a garlic-scented bulb, long-linear, slightly keeled, more or less evergreen. Plants spread easily to form extensive colonies once established.

Spring Starflower Spring Starflower Spring Starflower Spring Starflower
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Madonna Lily      Lilium candidum

Introduced from eastern Europe/Asia Minor as a garden ornamental. Rare but there are a handful of records from East Anglia, though the species rarely persists for long. Flowers June to July. Unlike other species on this page, the flowering stems have leaves in whorls up the stem.

Madonna Lily Madonna Lily Madonna Lily
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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 usually brilliant pink but 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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