Monday, July 29, 2013

Lilium iridollae

Peter Zale
Mr. Peter Zale
Our fourth presenter at the 2013 NALS Convention was Peter Zale, who was born and raised in Olmsted Falls, Ohio and developed a love of plants as a teenager.  He graduated from Ohio State University in 2001 with a degree in horticulture science and worked as a Nursery and Sales Manager for the next five years.  During 2007 Peter returned to Ohio State to study plant breeding, genetics, and germplasm conservation.  He received his Master’s degree in 2009 and is currently researching the genus Phlox.   Peter’s plant interests are many and he currently holds over 2,000 taxa in his plant collection.  Many of these plants are discussed on Peter’s website and blog at

Peter began his presentation by telling us about Mary Gibson Henry and her Pot-of-Gold, and then continued with a modern horticultural and botanical perspective on Lilium iridollae.

Mary Gibson Henry (1884-1967) was an American botanist and plant collector from Philadelphia, who also served as president of the American Horticultural Society.  Mrs. Henry had a lifelong interest in botany, and after her children had grown up, she set out collecting in her chauffeured car to remote areas of the American coastal plain, piedmont, and Appalachian Mountains.  Then later ventures to the Ozarks and the Rocky Mountains from New Mexico to British Columbia.

In 1940, Mary Henry discovered the Lilium iridollae species in its habitat. She named the lily in reference to a "pot of gold at the end of the rainbow". This species is considered one of five known Lilium species native to specific sites in the United States' southeast region.

Lilium iridollae is very demanding of specific conditions, which are probably the reason why this lily has been elusive to many enthusiasts. In general, the southeastern region of the United States is not considered "a lily growing area" since it has warm winter temperatures and high humidity which are not suitable conditions for most garden lilies.

Lilium iridollae is commonly known as Pot-of-Gold Lily and Panhandle Lily.  You can find this lily in Florida, Alabama, the Carolina's and Virginia.  It grows along streams and wet pine woodlands in the southwestern United States and has become endangered in Florida and threatened in North Carolina. 

This lily is reliant on naturally occurring fires caused by lightning strikes.  The fires reduce competition from other plants, release nutrients and organic substance from burned moss and leaves into the nutrient-poor soil.  This lily is also sensitive to changes in drainage patterns and water quality.  So they would be affected by urban development in nearby areas.

Lilium iridollae stem
Lilium iridollae stem
The flower stalk could grow to be 6 feet tall, but is usually a foot or two shorter. The individual flower stalks only create one solitary flower that hangs downward from the stem. Each flower is about 3-4 inches wide. The colors of the flowers range from a pale yellow to a rich orange. The petals on the flower are recurved, while the stamens and the stigma hang downward in the open space. In addition, the petals also have heavy brownish-black spots and the flowers are non-fragrant.

iridollae_basal rosette
iridollae base of plant
Lilium iridollae are deciduous and return to their bulb stage in late autumn.  Near early spring, brand new leaves form and they develop into a basal rosette. In late spring, the basic rosette begins to elongate. Then by mid- to late-July they flower.

There are often situations where Native lilies neglect to flower if the conditions are not right. In that case, they might spend years appearing each spring as a basal rosette of leaves. In addition, young plants, in optimal conditions, take more than two years to develop into a flower from a seed because they mature at a slow pace.

Mr. Zale gave us a marvelous rendition of his plant collecting expedition to Florida where he re-discovered Lilium iridollae.  The plant habitat and photos of the lily growing in its natural setting were fascinating.  We really enjoyed looking and touching some of the Lilium iridollae that Mr. Zale collected and is currently propagating.

-- Lynn Slackman

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Multiplying Martagons Easily

Red Martagon Lilium
Our third presenter at the 2013 NALS Convention was Dr. Ieuan Evans, who grew up on a small farm in a Welsh speaking fishing community.  He graduated from the University of Wales and then completed his PhD in plant diseases at the University of Florida in 1969.   He has worked in agriculture in Ontario and Alberta and continues to work full time.  Dr. Evans has been growing lilies since 1996 on acerage at Spruce Grove, Alberta.

Martagon lilies are usually hybrids between Lilium Martagon and several related species.  With the related species be native to Central Europe, Siberia and Mongolia.  The most common crosses are between Lilium Martagon (white, maroon, and spotted forms) and the yellow L. hansonii or orange L. tsingtauense.  L. Martagon will cross with the North American L. kellogii and with Asiatic lilium via tissue culture.  The Asiatic crosses are called martasians.

In nature all the martagon species typically grow in very cold climates, such as those that go to 40 degrees below.  They seem to tolerate acidic to alkaline soils and grow well in full sun to very heavy shade.  They usually do well in an East facing location where shade begins at 2pm each day.  Martagons do well in lightly wooded areas and are good companions for ligularia, fiddle head ferns, hemp nettle, and wild raspberries.  In the open garden, Martagons seem to thrive on heavy applications of peat moss (1 to 2 inch layer) used as mulch to also help control annual weeding.

Dr. Evan’s martagon crosses range from 3 to almost 9 feet tall when grown under light shade.  Their colors come in every color and shade except blue.  Once they are established in the garden, they can virtually be left forever.  On Martagon bulb in a favorable location will double every couple of years.  In 6 – 7 years you should have a vigorous clump of thriving lilies.  Martagons do have the habit of not emerging every year, but they will stay healthy underground and emerge the next year.

Pink spotted Martagon
How do I multiply my Martagons?

Patience in growing Martagons

Buy 5 – 10 martagon bulbs in early September and plant them immediately, at a 5 inch depth, in well-drained soil.  Plant them at different locations in your garden…some in half shade.  Spring planting is only successful when you purchase pot grown plants.  Martagons planted during spring will probably not flower or emerge above ground.  If they like your planted location, you should have a nice clump of martagons during the next 5 -10 years.  In some gardens and locations Martagons are slow to multiply and grow.

Rapid Martagon Multiplication

If you are already growing martagons and purchased bulbs during September consider scaling.  Scaling is a procedure of removing the outer scales of a martagon bulb and effectively reduces the size of the original bulb by up to 50 percent.

a)  Plant the original scaled bulb 5 inches deep and at the two inch level in the planting hole, after filling the first 3 inches, place the martagon bulb scales.  These scales will form bulblets, overwinter and emerge as seedlings around the original bulb.  If you scale and plant during October or November, the scales will form bulblets, but will not emerge until the following year.  Usually 19 – 20 months after planting.

b)  You can also plant the scales 2-3 inches deep, in carefully marked rows because the emergence of the scales my skip a year.  Weed the row, but don’t dig it.  If you have heavy clay soil, you may consider filling the top 2 inches with potting soil or a coarse mixture of peat, perlite and vermiculite.

c)  The Evans Method.  Dr. Evans scales his selected bulbs in September.  Places the scales in peat moss that is in clear plastic containers with tight lids.  Each plastic container will hold a pint of peat moss.  He puts 3 layers of scales into the peat moss container, numbering from 10 to 30 scales depending on the size of the scales.  The peat moss should be barely moist.  Moisten the peat moss the day before you use it.  After putting the scales into the peat moss place a lid on top and label it.  The scales will not suffocate because the plastic allows the entry of oxygen.

The peat moss will protect the scales from fungi and bacteria.  The containers should be kept at room temperature until New Year’s Day.  At that time the scales should have formed bulblets.  These bulblets won’t grow until they have been vernalized (given a prolonged cold period at around 32 degrees for 3 – 4 months.  This is accomplished by placing the containers into the coldest part of a spare refrigerator space.  Do not worry if the containers freeze in the refrigerator.

d)  If you do not have plastic containers, you can use small ‘ziplock’ bags and follow the Evans Method discussed above.  Plant the mass of roots, scales and bulblets produced as described below.

In late April or early May plant out the containers.  Dump out the peat moss and scales into your hand and place the mass of scale, bulblets, and roots directly into a 4 inch deep hole in your garden.  Then cover with sandy loam soil, sand or potting soil mix.  If you pull the scales and bulblets apart, they will grow very poorly. 

In a few weeks you will see the emerging bulblets.  These are new martagons that you can dig and separate in a few years (always in September or earlier).  Dr. Evans planted over 100 new varieties using this method and his success rate was 95 percent with first flower in 1 – 3 years.

Growing Martagons from seeds

Pink Martagon stem
If you are already growing Martagons, collect the seeds during August for September before the pods shatter.

a) Sow the seeds immediately into the ground about 1 inch deep.  Water in, and if you have a mild autumn the tiny martagon seedlings will emerge in May.  With care and weeding, you should have flowering martagons in 3 -7 years.

b) You can also use the Evans Method for scales, but place 50 – 200 seeds per container.  Follow the Evans Method outlined previously and place the container contents into 4 inch holes and cover with an inch of potting mix.  The seedlings will emerge like blades of grass in a couple of weeks after a 3 month chilling period in late April or early May.

c) You can also collect your seed and scatter it in shady or scrubby areas of your garden.  In a few years you will notice martagons popping up everywhere.  Dr. Evans has martagons through his wood lot, under trees and shrubs, and some are flowering at the edge of a poorly kept lawn.

-- Lynn Slackman

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Korean Martagon Lilies,
Ancestry of the genus Lilium

Ki-Byung Lim, at 2013 NALS Convention
Ki-Byung Lim

Our second presenter at the 2013 NALS Convention was Ki-Byung Lim,  Associate Professor of Department of Horticultural Science Kyungpook National University, Republic of Korea.

The following five species of Martagons, found in Korea,  were discussed;

Lilium hansonii
Lilium hansonii

Lilium hansonii is the most primitive and native to East Siberia, Korea and Japan.  This lily is a vigorous early–flowering stem–rooting true lily.  It has elliptic to inversely lanced–shaped leaves, which are pale green, up to 7 inches long and carried in whorls of 12–20 leaves.  In early summer they produce racemes of up 10–14 small, nodding, fragrant, flowers with recurved  tepals of a brilliant orange–yellow.  The tepals are fleshy and show purplish–brown spots near the base.  This lily grows to 3 – 5 feet in height.

L. hansonii is named for Peter Hanson (1821–1887), a Danish–born American landscape artist who was an aficionado of tulips and also grew lilies.

Lilium tsingtauense
Lilium tsingtauense
Lilium tsingtauense (also known as "Twilight Lily") is a species of lily native to East China and Korea. It is a medium sized herb that grows as a single stem from a scaly bulb.  The ovoid bulb is pale yellow and has jointed scales.  It has smooth, inversely Lance-shaped, lanceolate leaves, about 13 cm long and mostly in 2 whorls. This lily plant bears loose umbels of 6 (but may be up to 15) upright, unscented, shallow trumpet-shaped flowers, that blossom under partial sunlight. The blooms appear in midsummer and are orange or reddish-orange with maroon spots. The plant grows to a height of about 70–100 cm tall.

L. tsingtauense was named for the city of Tsingtao (Qingdao) in The People's Republic of China.

Lilium miquelianum
Lilium miquelianum

Lilium miquelianum is native to Korea and found on JeJu Island.  This plant has an irregular petal distribution and is not regarded as a pure martagon species, but a complex naturally occurring cross involving L. tsingtauense, L. distichum and perhaps more. The near outfacing aspect and the lack of horizontal geometry makes it something other than L. tsingtauense and the gap at the bottom gives is a feature from L. distichum.   The bulb is pale white and not jointed, like L. tsingtauense.

Lilium distichum
Lilium distichum
Lilium distichum is a herbaceous plant of the lily family which is native to northeastern China and Korea where it flourishes among shrubs and in forests.  It grows from 2–4 ft. (50–120 cm) tall. The stem is cylindrical and slender with a single whorl of leaves mid–way up the stem. It also has much smaller oval leaves sparsely alternating on the upper stem.  The bulb is not jointed, which is similar to L. tsingtauense.

The flowers are yellow–orange or orange–vermillion with the petals spotted in purple, somewhat ‘flatfaced’ in appearance with irregular distribution of petals around the face of the flower forming a fan shape. The tips of the petals are reflexed with 2–10 flowers carried on an inflorescence during the July and August timeframe.

The name distichum refers to the two types of leaves the plant carries. 

Lilium medeoloides
Lilium medeoloides
Lilium medeoloides is an upright herb of the lily family native to Eastern Siberia, North China, The Korean Peninsula and Japan where it grows in forests and on grassy and rocky subalpine areas.

It has stem rooting and sports lanceolate stalk less leaves about 12 cm long which are arranged in one or two whorls on the lower part of the stem with odd leaves on the upper part of the stem. The stem is hollow. The plant produces short racemes where up to 10 scentless, apricot to orange-red, Turk's-cap style flowers of 4.5 cm with dark spots and purple anthers. The whole plant grows to 40–80 cm.

Because the leaves are in whorls, L. medeoloides is called Kurumayuri which translated as "Lily with wheels".   It´s closely related to L. martagon and L. distichum.

From the five species discussed above, 81 percent are found on the side of mountains in a cliff habitat.  The soil in Korea is acidic and composed of silt, loam and sandy loam.  To increase acidity you usually add sulfur, so this would indicate that a high concentration of volcanic activity occurred in this area of the world.

There are four requirements for growing these Lilium species in Korea; water, humidity, dappled sun, and acidic soil.  They have also found Mosiac disease on Lilium tsingtauense but not on Lilium distichum

Further in-depth analysis;

In Korea they use DNA analysis to distinguish the Lilium species.  They use Ribosome DNA (rRDNA), where the chromosomes are located.

L. tsingtauense and L. hansonii have 12 chromosomes.  The first chromosome is the longest and the 12th the shortest.  Many of the 12 are different chromosomes with the same species.  Some pairs of the chromosomes don’t even have rRDNA in each chromosome (Possibly the evolution of Lilium).  This explains the differences within the species, which are called “Mutants” in nature.

L. miquelianum has 13 pairs of chromosomes and it is still evolving today.  JeJu Island has the highest variation in leaves, petals, spots and stems for Lilium found in Korea.

This presentation blew us away!  The analysis revealed many aspects of Lilium in Korea and the underlying ancestry of the Lilium from that area of the world.  We would like to extend A BIG Thank You to Ki-Byung Lim for sharing the results of his research and for traveling from South Korea to give this excellent presentation.

--Pam Hardy & Lynn Slackman

Friday, July 26, 2013

'West Coast Lily Chase'

Joe Nemmer, West Coast Lily Chase
Joe Nemmer
Joe Nemmer, our first presenter at the 2013 NALS convention, is from Mercer, Pennsylvania, and has been gardening since he was old enough to hold a trowel. Joe's first love is growing species. Joe spoke about the two trips he took to the West Coast in search of western North American species.

Lilium kelloggii
While chasing Lilium on the West Coast, Joe Nemmer and his research team first encountered Lilium kelloggii which is a species of lily known by the common name Kellogg's lily. It is endemic to the Klamath Mountains of northern California and southern Oregon, where it grows in forests, including redwood understory.  It originates from a scaly, elongated bulb up to about 7.5 centimeters long.  Their stems are ringed with dense whorls of up to 40 leaves.  The inflorescence bears up to 27 large, showy, nodding lily flowers. The fragrant flower is bell-shaped with 6 strongly re-curved pink tepals, 6 stamens with large red anthers, and a pistil which may be over 4 centimeters in length. The flowers are usually pollinated by swallowtails.  L. Kelloggii needs moist soil to thrive, but requires heavy drainage.

Lilium washingtonianum
Lilium washingtonianum
Joe’s team then explored the Onion Lake area in Humboldt County, California.  The upland area has very little moisture, except in seeps, where they found an abundance of Lilium.  They first observed Lilium washingtonianum which is native to the Cascade Range and Sierra Nevada of western North America. These lilies are white with small purple spots.  They are also known as the Washington lily, Shasta lily, or Mt. Hood lily. It is named after Martha Washington and they do not naturally occur in the state of Washington. Its range is limited to the states of California and Oregon.

Lilium rubescens
Lilium rubescens
They also observed Lilium rubescens which is an uncommon species of lily known by the common names of redwood lily and chaparral lily. It is endemic to California, where it is known from the Coast Ranges from Del Norte to Santa Cruz Counties. As its name suggests, it is a member of the flora in redwood forest understory and chaparral habitat types.

Lilium bolanderi
Lilium bolanderi
They then observed Lilium bolanderi which is a species of lily from western North America, known by the common name Bolander's lily. It is a perennial herb growing a waxy, erect stem that approaches a meter in height. It originates from a scaly, elongated bulb up to about 7 centimeters long. The wavy oval leaves are located in several whorls about the stem. The inflorescence bears up to 9 large, nodding lily flowers. The flower is bell-shaped with 6 red tepals and marked with yellow, purple, or darker reds. It often hybridizes with other lilies, producing a variety of forms, colors and patterns. The flowers are pollinated by Allen's and Rufus hummingbirds.

All of these Lilium grew in soil composed of heavy metals due to volcanic origins in the area.

Lilium pardalinum ssp. shastense
Lilium pardalinum ssp. shastense
Joe and his team then moved onto Mosquito Lakes in California.  This is the head waters of the Sacramento River near Mount Shasta which is an active volcano located at the southern end of the Cascade Range in Siskiyou County, California and at 14,179 feet is the second highest peak in the Cascades and the fifth highest in California.  At this location they observed Lilium pardalinum ssp. shastense, also known as Shasta Lily, which is found in wet meadows and along streams in mixed evergreen forests. It occurs in the Sierra Nevada in Plumas, Butte, Trinity and Siskiyou counties north to Oregon.  They also observed inter-specific crosses between L. washingtonianum and L. bolanderi, which were larger than the species found at Onion Lake.

They also explored Castle Crags which soars above the upper Sacramento River Valley. From the lofty ramparts, a hiker can look down on forested slopes and up at magni´Čücent snow-covered Mt. Shasta.  For the last million years, the Crags have been subjected to the forces of wind, rain, ice and even some small glaciers, which have shaped the granite into its distinctive shapes.

One of their last explorations was at Beaverdam Creek, in Oregon where they observed numerous described Lilium in the flood plain that were naturalized into inter-specific hybrids.  Joe referred to these lilies as a ’Swarm’, which is a mix of many species which lead to naturally inter-specific lilies in remote areas.

Mr. Nemmer gave a wonderful presentation.  We were on the edge of our seats waiting to see the next observed Lilium on their West Coast Lily Chase.

-- Lynn Slackman & Pam Hardy

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Our first morning at the 2013 NALS Convention

This year we decided to attend the North American Lily Society Convention in West Des Moines, IA.  This would be my first NALS convention and I really didn’t know what to expect.  We arrived late on Wednesday, June 16, 2013, but made sure to get-up early for the NALS convention check-in on Thursday morning.

Registration Desk at NALS Convention
NALS Convention Check-in at The Sheraton West Des Moines, IA

The very friendly people at the registration desk gave us our name badges, goody bags and pointed us towards the Lily staging room.

In the Lily staging room we found our Mid America Regional Lily Society member, Kim Peterson, working hard to prepare her flowers for display in the Horticulture Division at the Lily Show.  As Kim's flowers soaked-up water from the long ride to Iowa, we volunteered to help her prepare and groom her flowers for the Show.

Kim's preliminary lilies for Horticulture display

Kim's lilies for her Design entries

As we looked around the room, we found an amazing assortment of Lilium soaking-up water and in various stages of preparation for the Horticulture Division at the NALS Lily Show.

There was an entire table full of gorgeous Lilium that people had brought for design exhibitors to use while preparing entries for the Design Division.

We found this gorgeous Martagon Lilium soaking-up water and refreshing in the cool staging room.  I had only seen these amazing Lilium in photographs and seeing them in person...I was in awe of it's structure and substance.

Martagon in NALS staging room
A Martagon we found in the NALS staging room

We spent an amazing morning among the Lilium in the NALS staging room.

--By Lynn Slackman