A traditional spring flower, the lily is considered a symbol of hope and beauty. Used for adding color to gardens and landscapes, they’re also seen in both happy and sad occasions, such as weddings and funerals. Lily flowers come in a variety of stunning colors and curious shapes, with some of the most common shapes including trumpets, bowls and stars. Each shape has variations to the common shape, such as some trumpet lilies that are more open than others.
Having been cultivated for more than 3,000 years, lilies are the oldest known flowers in history and have inspired writers and artists throughout time. Assyrian carvings and Cretan wall paintings as far back as 1580 B.C. contain pictures of lilies. Mentioned often in the Bible, lilies were popular flowers in Jewish and early Christian civilizations, standing for virtue and chastity. Greek brides wore them to represent abundance and purity. In China, lilies mean “forever in love.”
Lilies mostly grow in the northern hemisphere in various habitats around the world, including Siberia, Japan, North Korea and India. In the United States, lilies can be grown almost everywhere, but they don’t do well in the deserts of the Southwest.
The outer part of a lily flower is the perianth, which is made up three sepals and three petals. These six parts are typically called tepals, having the same patterns or colors. The lily flower has six male reproductive parts, called stamens, which consist of a long filament that holds the anthers. The female reproductive parts, known collectively as the pistil, are in the center of the flower and contain the ovary, style and stigma. Lily pollen comes in different colors, ranging from soft yellow and orange to dark brown, depending on the particular hybrids or species
According to Herbs2000.com, about 80 species of lilies are recognized by botanists. Asiatic lilies, often mistaken for tiger lilies, are the hardiest of all the species and have flowers that vary in color and height. L.A. hybrids produce huge blooms on tall stems, with some of them having a fragrance. Most are bred for the cut-flower trade. Orientals, the most fragrant type, have a spicy perfume and wide leaves. Trumpet lilies need full sun and aren’t as hardy as other types.
The lotus is commonly thought to be a water lily, but it is an entirely different plant. While water lilies come in different colors, the lotus flower is only found in shades of white or pink. Tiger and day lilies are thought to be lilies, but they aren’t, since they don’t belong to the Lilum plant family.
Lily pollen is hard to remove from clothing, skin and furniture. It shouldn’t be brushed off because this only spreads it out more. Instead, tape can be used to pull of as much as possible. When cutting lilies for bouquets, it’s safer to do this job outside, dressed in old clothing.