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Lilium columbianum

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

Sandhills lily


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.

rhizomatous, occasionally branching dichotomously at 120° from main axis, 2.4–2.8 × 5.2–8.6 cm, 0.3–0.5 times taller than long, 2–3 years’ growth evident as annual bulbs, scaleless sections between these 0.3–2.5 cm;

scales unsegmented, longest 1.1–1.9 cm;

stem roots absent or sometimes present.


to 1.7 m, glaucous or not.

0.6–1.6 m. Buds ± triangular 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.

often concentrated proximally, occasionally scattered, usually in 1–12 whorls or partial whorls, 3–11(–15) leaves per whorl, barely to moderately ascending proximally, drooping at tips or not, ascending and appressed distally, 2.3–10.3(–12.2) × 0.8–2.4 cm, 1.6–7.6(–10.3) times longer than wide;

blade narrowly elliptic, margins not undulate, apex acute, barely acuminate on distal leaves;

veins and margins ± smooth abaxially.


racemose, 1–25(–45)-flowered.

racemose, 1–7-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 Turk’s-cap-shaped;

sepals and petals reflexed 1/5–1/4 along length from base, yellow (occasionally pale yellow or yellow-orange) proximally, red-orange or dusky red (occasionally magenta, pinkish, pale orange, or red) distally, spotted magenta, not distinctly clawed, nectaries exposed, forming visible green star (or triangle, when only sepal nectaries are exposed);

sepals with 2 parallel, often faint abaxial ridges, 6.7–8.9 × 1.1–1.7 cm;

petals 6.3–8.7 × 1.5–2.2 cm;

stamens strongly exserted;

filaments parallel at first, then widely spreading, diverging 12°–28° from axis;

anthers magenta or sometimes purple, 1.1–1.8 cm;

pollen rust;

pistil 3.4–6.4 cm;

ovary 1.5–2.8 cm;

style pale green, often spotted purple;

pedicel 6.8–16.5 cm.


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

2.8–4.7 × 1.5–1.9 cm, 1.7–2.8 times longer than wide.



not counted.


= 24.

Lilium columbianum

Lilium pyrophilum

Phenology Flowering summer (early May–early Aug). Flowering summer (late Jul–mid Aug).
Habitat Coastal scrub and prairies, meadows, conifer or mixed forests, clearings, roadsides Streamhead pocosins, sandhill seeps and streamsides, drainages in maintained powerlines
Elevation 0–1800 m (0–5900 ft) 0–200 m (0–700 ft)
from FNA
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]
from FNA
[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.)

Lilium pyrophilum is narrowly endemic to the Sandhills region of southern Virginia, North Carolina, and northern South Carolina. The most ecologically intact populations occur on military bases in the Carolinas that are carefully managed to ensure the frequent fires that promote this fire-dependent lily; many of these fires are initiated by exploding ordnance.

Its close relative, Lilium superbum, occurs to the west in the upper Piedmont, and is not known from the Sandhills proper. Prior to the description of L. pyrophilum, specimens now assignable to it were masquerading in herbaria as other species, primarily L. michauxii. A. E. Radford et al. (1968) mentioned robust L. michauxii bog plants that resembled L. superbum; these are considered here as L. pyrophilum.

Discriminating between Lilium superbum and larger specimens of L. pyrophilum may require reference to several characters. The shorter, blunter, more ascending leaves of L. pyrophilum average fewer per whorl and are grouped in fewer whorls, but overlap with L. superbum is extensive. In L. pyrophilum the whorls with the largest number of leaves are often clustered nearer the ground, and distally the stem bears scattered, appressed leaves, whereas the taller L. superbum displays whorling more or less evenly along the stem, and the few scattered leaves above the whorls are not appressed. Lilium pyrophilum blooms somewhat later than L. superbum, though some overlap occurs. The floral tube of L. pyrophilum is longer because the perianth parts are reflexed farther down their lengths, but this difference is subtle.

Hybrids between Lilium michauxii and L. pyrophilum are known and often display the wide petals characteristic of the former species.

The manner and frequency of visits by ruby-throated hummingbirds [Archilochus colubris (Linnaeus), family Trochilidae] suggest that this species is involved in pollination of the Sandhills lily. The palamedes swallowtail [Papilio palamedes (Drury), family Papilionidae] also visits and pollinates this species.

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

Source FNA vol. 26, p. 185. FNA vol. 26, p. 194.
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. canadense, 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. rubescens, L. superbum, L. washingtonianum
Synonyms L. canadense var. parviflorum, L. lucidum, L. parviflorum
Name authority Leichtlin ex Duchartre: J. Soc. Centr. Hort. France, sér. 2, 5: 98. (1871) M. W. Skinner & Sorrie: Novon 12: 94, figs. 1, 2. (2002)
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