Definition of a Tiger Lilly

Definition of a Tiger Lilly image by Cody Hough -- Creative Commons Image


The tiger lily is a striking plant so-named because of the tiger-like spots on its petals. A perennial, the tiger lily has a strong, yet sweet fragrance. Surprisingly, most of the parts of the plant are edible. Besides being a lovely garden plant, the tiger lily has medical purposes. For example, a tincture made from the plant has been proven effective in treating uterine-neuralgia congestion, nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. In holistic healing treatments, it has been used for treating aggression.


A tiger lily's leaves are narrow and lance-shaped. Typically, six to nine leaves are arranged in whorls; however, leaves located on the upper stem can be scattered. The plant's flowers are orange-colored with red or brownish-red spots near the middle petal. The flowers can grow as wide as 3 inches. The petals curve backward and dangle down, resembling a bell. Each stem can have as many as 30 tiger lilies, according to the British Columbia Adventure website.


The tiger lily is found in Canada, from Quebec to British Columbia, and southward to the United States, thriving best in growing zones three through nine. In other words, tiger lilies can grow most anywhere other than tropical south Florida and the coastal area of southern California. The plant's habitat is mainly in low to sub-alpine elevations, meadows, open forests and clearings.


The tiger lily is known by different names throughout the United States. A few of them include devil lily, Columbia lily, Oregon lily, red lily and western lily.The two varieties of the tiger lily are the oriental variety and the common wildflower variety. While the oriental variety propagates through bulbs forming at leaf axils, the common wildflower is propagated by tuberous roots.

Plant Care

An easy plant to grow, the tiger lily doesn't require special care. In fact, tiger lilies do not need fertilizers unless planted in poor soil. They are prone attack by slugs or lily beetles, which you can remove by hand. Tiger lilies can also be grown in raised pots. Because they commonly carry viral diseases, these plants can easily infect other species, so grow them far from other lilies.


Tiger lilies can be toxic to cats. According to the Cat Fancier's Association, a cat may vomit, loss its appetite or become lethargic a few hours after ingesting any part of the tiger lily. Seek immediate veterinary care because your cat's kidneys can fail in 36 to 72 hours.

Keywords: tiger lily, western lily, caring for lilies

About this Author

Venice Kichura has written on a variety of topics for various websites, such as Suite 101 and Associated Content since 2005. She's written articles published in print publications and stories for books such as "God Allows U-Turns." She's a graduate of the University of Texas and has worked in both Florida and Connecticut schools.

Photo by: Cody Hough -- Creative Commons Image

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