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

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