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Lilium pardalinum

California tiger lily, leopard lily, panther lily

Sandhills lily


rhizomatous, usually branching, continuously scaly, 1.4–5.1 × 3.9–19 cm, 0.2–0.6 times taller than long;

scales sometimes unsegmented but always some 2–4-segmented on each bulb, longest 1–3.3 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 2.8 m, strongly clonal and thus forming dense colonies, to weakly clonal and forming small colonies or clumps.

0.6–1.6 m. Buds ± triangular in cross section.


rounded in cross section.


usually ± evenly distributed along stem, rarely concentrated proximally, scattered or in 1–6 whorls or partial whorls, 3–19 leaves per whorl, horizontal and drooping at tips to ascending, 4.9–26.5 × 0.3–5.6 cm, 3–34 times longer than wide;

blade usually ± elliptic, wide or narrow, margins usually not undulate, apex acute, often narrowly so;

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, 1–28(–35)-flowered.

racemose, 1–7-flowered.


pendent, usually not fragrant;

perianth Turk’s-cap-shaped;

sepals and petals reflexed 1/4–1/3 along length from base, yellow, yellow-orange, or orange proximally, darker orange to red-orange to red on distal 1/5–3/5 (entirely orange or yellow-orange in subsp. wigginsii), with maroon spots concentrated proximally and always surrounded by yellow or orange if extending into distal reddish zone, conspicuously green abaxially on proximal ± 1/5, not distinctly clawed;

sepals not ridged abaxially, 3.5–10.4 × 0.9–2.2 cm;

petals 3.4–10.2 × 0.9–2.5 cm;

stamens moderately to strongly exserted;

filaments moderately to widely spreading, diverging 7°–22° from axis;

anthers ± magenta or sometimes orange, orange-pink, or pale yellow, 0.5–2.2 cm;

pollen red-brown, red-orange, brown-orange, rust, orange, or yellow;

pistil 3.1–7.5 cm;

ovary 1–2.2 cm;

style green, often pale, rarely sordid;

pedicel 6–32 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.


2.2–5.7 × 1.2–2.1 cm, 1.5–3.7 times longer than wide.

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



not counted.

Lilium pardalinum

Lilium pyrophilum

Phenology Flowering summer (late Jul–mid Aug).
Habitat Streamhead pocosins, sandhill seeps and streamsides, drainages in maintained powerlines
Elevation 0–200 m (0–700 ft)
from FNA
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]
from FNA
[BONAP county map]

Subspecies 5 (5 in the flora).

The subspecies of Lilium pardalinum display a classic pattern of discrete geographical ranges with intervening zones of introgression, and no two occur sympatrically without intermixing. Plants in the hybrid zones are confusing in appearance and cannot be assigned to subspecies. However, each subspecies is fairly well marked within its core distribution. With the exception of subsp. pitkinense, the subspecies of L. pardalinum can be common plants in the proper habitats within their rather narrow distributions.

Leaf size and shape are quite variable in Lilium pardalinum subspecies and often clearly dependent on environment. In populations that typically have narrow, ascending leaves, shaded plants often have wide, horizontal leaves. This hampers taxonomic separation as well as identification, especially of herbarium specimens. Further field study is desirable.

Lilium pardalinum is primarily pollinated by western tiger swallowtails (Papilio rutulus Lucas, family Papilionidae) and pale swallowtails (P. eurymedon Lucas); several species of hummingbirds (family Trochilidae) are also important visitors, especially when butterflies are rare.

The Atsugewi, Karok, and Yana ate Lilium pardalinum bulbs steamed or baked in an earth oven (D. E. Moerman 1986).

(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.)

1. Sepals and petals uniformly yellow or yellow-orange; sepals 3.5–7.1 cm; anthers pale yellow, 0.5–1.3 cm; pollen yellow or orange; pistil 3.1–4.3 cm; capsules 2.3–4.2 cm; n California, s Oregon.
subsp. wigginsii
1. Sepals and petals ± 2-toned, with yellow or orange proximally, distal 1/5–3/5 darker orange to red; sepals 3.7–10.4 cm; anthers magenta, occasionally purple or orange, 0.5–2.2 cm; pollen yellow to rust; pistil 3.3–7.5 cm; capsules 2.2–5.7 cm; California, s Oregon.
→ 2
2. Sepals (5.9–)6.6–10.4 cm; anthers 1.1–2.2 cm; capsules 2.9–5.7 cm; leaves 3–12 times longer than wide, blade ± elliptic; stems strongly clonal, forming large colonies; California.
subsp. pardalinum
2. Sepals 3.7–8.3 cm; anthers 0.5–1.8 cm; capsules 2.2–4.8 cm; leaves 3–34 times longer than wide, blade elliptic to linear; stems weakly to moderately clonal, sometimes forming small colonies; n California, s Oregon.
→ 3
3. Leaves 7.3–34 times longer than wide, often concentrated proximally, often ascending, sometimes horizontal, blade ± linear; sepals (4.9–)5.3–8.3 cm; anthers 0.6–1.8 cm; pollen usually dark orange; extreme nw California, adjacent s Oregon.
subsp. vollmeri
3. Leaves 3–17 times longer than wide, ± evenly distributed along stem, ± ascending or horizontal, blade ± elliptic; sepals 3.7–7.6 cm; anthers 0.5–1.4 cm; pollen yellow, orange, or red- or brown-orange; n California, s Oregon.
→ 4
4. Pollen red- or brown-orange; anthers magenta; bulb scales usually 2-segmented; n Coast Ranges near Sebastopol, California.
subsp. pitkinense
4. Pollen usually yellow or bright orange; anthers orange to magenta; bulb scales (1–)2–4-segmented; ne California, adjacent s Oregon.
subsp. shastense
Source FNA vol. 26, p. 188. FNA vol. 26, p. 194.
Parent taxa Liliaceae > Lilium Liliaceae > Lilium
Sibling taxa
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. 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
Subordinate taxa
L. pardalinum subsp. pardalinum, L. pardalinum subsp. pitkinense, L. pardalinum subsp. shastense, L. pardalinum subsp. vollmeri, L. pardalinum subsp. wigginsii
Name authority Kellogg: Hesperian (San Francisco) 3: 300. (1859) M. W. Skinner & Sorrie: Novon 12: 94, figs. 1, 2. (2002)
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