Turk¿s-cap Lily (Lilium superbum)
(Courtesy Seig Kopinitz / August 27, 2013)
Turk's-cap lily, or Lilium superbum, is a truly spectacular plant with drooping orange to orange-red flowers spotted with purple, according to Helen Hamilton, past president of the John Clayton Chapter, Virginia Native Plant Society.
A green area in the center of the flower forms a star. The petals curl backward so the tips nearly touch, completely exposing the stamens with their dangling brown anthers. The entire flower is over 2 inches wide. This is the largest of native lilies, the stems 3-7 feet tall, with many flowers on a single plant. Lance-shaped leaves are 2-6 inches long, the principal ones whorled on the stem. Oblong seedpods contain flat seeds with thin papery wings, enabling dispersal by wind.
Turk’s Cap Lily grows in wet meadows, swamps and woods, preferring full or partial sun, rich soil and moist conditions. This lily is widespread across Virginia, and ranges from Massachusetts and southeastern New Hampshire to Georgia and Alabama. Blooms July-September.
The common name comes from the European species L. martagon, also called “Turk’s-cap Lily,” since the flower resembles a “martagon,” a turban worn by the sultan of Ottoman Turkey. The plant has been used as a cooked vegetable. Virginia botanist Mark Catesby reported that “The Indians boiled these … and esteemed them dainties.”
For more information about native plants visit www.claytonvnps.org.
Posted by Kathy Van Mullekom; firstname.lastname@example.org