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Lilium columbianum

Columbia lily, Columbia tiger lily, Columbian lily, Oregon lily, tiger lily

Canada lily, lis du Canada


variable, subrhizomatous to ± ovoid, 3.1–8.1 × 3.6–10.6 cm, 0.3–1.4 times taller than long;

scales 2–3(–5)-segmented, some unsegmented, longest 3.1–7.3 cm;

stem roots absent.

usually yellowish, rhizomatous, unbranched, 1.8–4.5 × 4.2–11.7 cm, 0.3–0.8 times taller than long, 2(–3) years’ growth evident as annual bulbs, scaleless sections between these 0.7–5.3 cm;

scales 1–2-segmented, longest 0.9–2.8 cm;

stem roots present, often very many.


to 1.7 m, glaucous or not.

to 1.8 m.


rounded in cross section.

rounded in cross section.


in 1–9 whorls or partial whorls, 3–25 leaves per whorl, usually ascending, 1.7–15.7 × 0.4–4.7 cm, 2.4–7.4 times longer than wide;

blade weakly oblanceolate to obovate or ± elliptic, margins usually somewhat undulate, apex acute;

veins and margins ± smooth abaxially.

in 6–10 whorls or partial whorls, 3–12 leaves per whorl, ± horizontal, occasionally slightly ascending, drooping at tips, 4–17.3 × 1–3.6 cm, 2.5–10 times longer than wide;

blade narrowly elliptic, occasionally elliptic or slightly lanceolate, margins not undulate, apex acute, often acuminate in distal leaves;

principal veins impressed adaxially, veins and margins very noticeably roughened abaxially with small ± deltoid epidermal spicules.


racemose, 1–25(–45)-flowered.

racemose, 1–17-flowered.


pendent to nodding, not fragrant;

perianth Turk’s-cap-shaped;

sepals and petals reflexed 2/5–1/2 along length from base, yellow or orange to occasionally red, with copious maroon spots, often darker and especially reddish abaxially, not distinctly clawed;

sepals not ridged abaxially, appearing wide for their length, 3.4–7.1 × 0.8–1.9 cm;

petals 3.5–6.9 × 0.8–1.9 cm;

stamens barely to moderately exserted;

filaments moderately spreading, diverging 10°–20° from axis;

anthers pale yellow to yellow, 0.5–1.3 cm;

pollen orange or yellow;

pistil 2.4–3.7 cm;

ovary 1.1–2.2 cm;

style green;

pedicel 2.8–20.2 cm.

pendent, not fragrant;

perianth ± campanulate;

sepals and petals somewhat recurved 1/2–3/4 along length from base, adaxial surface dirty yellow proximally and giving way to red dusting on tips, red or pale red abaxially, or orange adaxially and yellow-orange abaxially, or both surfaces solid yellow, spotted maroon, not distinctly clawed;

sepals not ridged abaxially, 5.4–8.5 × 1.2–1.7 cm;

petals 5.3–8 × 1.2–2 cm;

stamens barely exserted;

filaments ± parallel to style, barely spreading, diverging only 4°–6° from axis, ± same color as sepals and petals;

anthers dull magenta or darker, 0.6–1.3 cm;

pollen rust, sometimes light brown, rust-, tan-, or orange-brown;

pistil 4.2–6.4 cm;

ovary 1.5–2.8 cm;

style ± same color as sepals and petals;

pedicel 5–23.5 cm.


2.2–5.4 × 1.1–2 cm, 1.7–3.3 times longer than wide.

3–5.2 × 1.5–2.3 cm, 1.5–2.5 times longer than wide.



not counted.


= 24.

= 24.

Lilium columbianum

Lilium canadense

Phenology Flowering summer (early May–early Aug). Flowering summer (Jun–early Aug).
Habitat Coastal scrub and prairies, meadows, conifer or mixed forests, clearings, roadsides Wet meadows, moist rich woods especially edges, streamsides and river alluvia, bogs, marshes, swamps, along wet roadsides and railroads
Elevation 0–1800 m (0–5900 ft) 0–1000(–1400) m (0–3300(–4600) ft)
from FNA
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]
from FNA
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]

The author citations often seen for this species derive from Baker (1874), who published the name as Lilium columbianum “Hanson in hort., Leichtlin”; this authority is given by various later writers as Hanson, or Baker, or Hanson ex Baker. However, Ducharte’s (1871) recapitulation of a letter from M. Leichtlin is apparently the first confirmed and valid publication of L. columbianum, and hence that citation is used here.

This widespread lily is rather variable. In California plants the stamens are considerably less exserted than those of plants found farther north. Lilium columbianum may intergrade with L. kelloggii along Highway 199 at the border between California and Oregon; these plants are slightly fragrant, the stamens moderately exserted, and the bulb scales unsegmented. Lilium columbianum hybridizes with L. pardalinum subspp. wigginsii and vollmeri, and extensively with L. occidentale in Oregon.

Lilium columbianum is pollinated primarily by rufous hummingbirds [Selasphorus rufus (J. F. Gmelin), family Trochilidae] and to a lesser extent by large butterflies, including the pale swallowtail (Papilio eurymedon Lucas, family Papilionidae).

Native Americans used Lilium columbianum bulbs as a food or peppery condiment, sometimes mixed with meat or salmon roe. For many, it was a staple food (J. Pojar and A. MacKinnon 1994).

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

M. L. Fernald (1943e) proposed the variety editorum to account for the more montane plants with wide leaves (2–5 times longer than wide vs. 5–10 in var. canadense), red flowers with slender and elongate tubes with perianth parts arching near or above the middle but not recurved, and narrow petals (0.8–1.3 cm in dried material). Others, including E. T. Wherry (1946) and C. A. Best (1962), sought to characterize the variation better at the subspecific level, and placed more emphasis on ecological differences. In practice, most botanists who recognize var. editorum (e.g., R. M. Adams and W. J. Dress 1982) rely on flower color to designate the varieties, since other characters emerge as quite variable.

Field observations do not strongly support infraspecific splitting of Lilium canadense. Flower color varies widely, and various color forms—usually yellow and orange—are found within single populations in Massachusetts and elsewhere. As interpreted by Adams and Dress, the distributions of the proposed varieties overlap widely, and morphological evidence also offers little support. Leaves 2–10 times longer than wide occur within a sample of plants from Ohio and Alabama that is clearly referable to subsp. editorum in the sense of Adams and Dress, and in these plants the floral tube is wider than that of Massachusetts plants assignable to the nominate variety. Petal widths (fresh material) are 1.2–2 cm. In short, the increasingly refined attempts of the last 60 years to suitably characterize variation in this species suggest that is quite difficult or impossible to do so.

Though no specimens were seen, a report of Lilium canadense from Ashley County in extreme southeastern Arkansas is quite likely to represent L. superbum.

Field observations across the range of the species indicate that the Canada lily is pollinated primarily by ruby-throated hummingbirds [Archilochus colubris (Linnaeus), family Trochilidae].

Native Americans used Lilium canadense medicinally to treat irregular menstruation, stomach disorders, rheumatism, and snake bites. The Cherokee prepared a decoction of boiled rhizomes to fatten children (D. E. Moerman 1986).

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Source FNA vol. 26, p. 185. FNA vol. 26.
Parent taxa Liliaceae > Lilium Liliaceae > Lilium
Sibling taxa
L. bolanderi, L. canadense, L. catesbaei, L. grayi, L. humboldtii, L. iridollae, L. kelleyanum, L. kelloggii, L. lancifolium, L. maritimum, L. michauxii, L. michiganense, L. occidentale, L. pardalinum, L. parryi, L. parvum, L. philadelphicum, L. pyrophilum, L. rubescens, L. superbum, L. washingtonianum
L. bolanderi, L. catesbaei, L. columbianum, L. grayi, L. humboldtii, L. iridollae, L. kelleyanum, L. kelloggii, L. lancifolium, L. maritimum, L. michauxii, L. michiganense, L. occidentale, L. pardalinum, L. parryi, L. parvum, L. philadelphicum, L. pyrophilum, L. rubescens, L. superbum, L. washingtonianum
Synonyms L. canadense var. parviflorum, L. lucidum, L. parviflorum L. canadense var. coccineum, L. canadense subsp. editorum, L. canadense var. editorum, L. canadense var. flavum, L. canadense var. rubrum
Name authority Leichtlin ex Duchartre: J. Soc. Centr. Hort. France, sér. 2, 5: 98. (1871) Linnaeus: Sp. Pl. 1: 303. (1753)
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