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Lilium pardalinum

California tiger lily, leopard lily, panther lily

Turk's-cap 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, often branching dichotomously at 120° from main axis, 2.4–4.3 × 6–10.2 cm, 0.2–0.6 times taller than long, 2(–3) years’ growth evident as annual bulbs, the scaleless sections between these 0.6–3.8(–4.6) cm;

scales 1–2-segmented (if 2-segmented, often only on inner scales), longest 1.2–3.9 cm;

stem roots present or absent.


to 2.8 m, strongly clonal and thus forming dense colonies, to weakly clonal and forming small colonies or clumps.

1.2–2.8 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.

usually ± evenly distributed along stem, in 6–24 whorls or partial whorls, 3–20 leaves per whorl, usually ± horizontal and drooping at tips, distal leaves ascending in sun, 7.1–26.1 × 0.7–2.7 cm, 4–18 times longer than wide;

blade narrowly elliptic, sometimes extremely so, occasionally barely oblanceolate, margins not undulate, apex acute, acuminate in distal leaves;

veins and margins ± smooth abaxially.


racemose, 1–28(–35)-flowered.

racemose, 1–22-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 less than 1/5 along length from base, yellow or sometimes yellow-orange proximally, red-orange or sometimes red, red-purple, orange, or yellow barely suffused with red distally, spotted magenta, not distinctly clawed, nectaries exposed, forming visible green star;

sepals with 2 parallel, often faint abaxial ridges, 6.8–10.5 × 1.1–2.1 cm;

petals 7–10.2 × 1.4–2.6 cm;

stamens strongly exserted;

filaments parallel along much or most of length, then widely spreading, diverging (7°–)11°–30° from axis;

anthers magenta, occasionally purple or dull purple, 1.4–2.6 cm;

pollen rust;

pistil 4.7–8.2 cm;

ovary 1.5–3.4 cm;

style pale green, often spotted purple;

pedicel 7.4–19.1 cm.


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

2.9–6.2 × 1.7–2.5 cm, 1.7–3.3 times longer than wide.



not counted.


= 24.

Lilium pardalinum

Lilium superbum

Phenology Flowering summer (Jul–early Aug).
Habitat Gaps and openings in rich woods, swamp edges and bottoms, streamsides, moist meadows and thickets, balds, pine barrens, roadsides
Elevation 0–1600 m (0–5200 ft)
from FNA
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]
from FNA
[WildflowerSearch map]
[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.)

The largest Lilium east of the Rocky Mountains and the commonest over most of its range, the Turk’s-cap lily is a familiar sight throughout much of the southern Appalachians and along the northern Atlantic coastal plain. Flowers are rather variable; those in the north are sometimes floridly colored with dark purple bases on the perianth parts. The single report from Vermont (F. C. Seymour 1993) remains unconfirmed; however, recent collections from Washington Parish in Louisiana, Perry County in Missouri, and Bamberg County in the coastal plain of South Carolina extend the range of this species.

Lilium superbum shares distinctive features with L. michauxii, L. pyrophilum, and L. iridollae that indicate a close relationship and are diagnostically useful, namely paired ridges on the backs of the sepals and buds that are triangular in cross section. None has the red style characteristic of the other eastern pendent lily clade (L. michiganense, L. canadense, and L. grayi) centered to the northwest, and only L. iridollae sometimes has the leaf margins and veins roughened abaxially as is characteristic of L. canadense and its close relatives.

Common inheritance of a suite of unique, derived features and peripheral allopatric distributions suggest that Lilium pyrophilum and L. iridollae may be geographical isolates of broadly distributed L. superbum ancestral stock; both restricted species occur in specialized wetland habitats. Geography aside, the three are unequivocally distinguished only by various combinations of leaf and bulb characteristics, flower color, habitat, and blooming time. However, the overall degree of separation is comparable to that between many other species in the genus. Lilium superbum blooms the earliest, is the largest, and has the most numerous and largest flowers, and the long, narrow leaves in many whorls are distinctive. Lilium michauxii overlaps in range with these three species but is easily separated morphologically and ecologically.

Lilium superbum is pollinated primarily by the swallowtail butterflies that are common within its range, among them the spicebush (Papilio troilus Linnaeus, family Papilionidae), pipevine (Battus philenor Linnaeus), and eastern tiger (Papilio glaucus Linnaeus). Great spangled fritillaries [Speyeria cybele (Fabricius), family Nymphalidae] also visit the Turk’s-cap lily (R. M. Adams and W. J. Dress 1982).

(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. 192.
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. pyrophilum, L. rubescens, L. washingtonianum
Subordinate taxa
L. pardalinum subsp. pardalinum, L. pardalinum subsp. pitkinense, L. pardalinum subsp. shastense, L. pardalinum subsp. vollmeri, L. pardalinum subsp. wigginsii
Synonyms L. canadense subsp. superbum, L. fortunofulgidum, L. gazarubrum, L. mary-henryae
Name authority Kellogg: Hesperian (San Francisco) 3: 300. (1859) Linnaeus: Sp. Pl. ed. 2, 1: 434. (1762)
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