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

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