The Tiger Lily
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Types of Lilies
Types of Flowers
Tiger Lily is a general name given to a few different lily species in the Lilium genus that share some similar physical characteristics such as having spotted, colorful, reflexed flowers that nod.
Lilium tigrinum, a native lily of the eastern Asian area, is a popular tiger lily, hybridized and grown in gardens around the world.
Lilium pardalinum, sometimes called a panther lily, and Lilium philadelphicum sometimes called a wood lily, have also been called tiger lilies.
The top picture shows a tiger lily native to the Pacific Northwest. It's also called the Columbia Lily (Lilium columbianum), a very colorful late spring bloomer.
It is a fairly adaptable plant, found growing at different altitudes, in fields, forests, meadows and along the road.
During late spring dozens of plants can be found blooming along roadsides, many of which have multiple flowers on the stalk. The bulbs are edible, and were a traditional food source for Native Americans.
The flower's beauty and adaptability have made them a gardener's delight in all corners of the world. Over the ages, Tiger Lilies have also delighted poets and writers. Consider the following poem.
Tiger LilyWhat torrid days have poured their quivering heat
Into the hollow of thy slender urn,
Till now within thy heart, once chastely sweet,
The fires of tropic heavens ever burn!
Or pale, perchance, as virgin peaks of snow, Thou stood'st in stainless splendor, till one daytood'st in stainless splendor, till one day
A wounded tiger at thy feet crouched low, And o'er thy chalice plashed his blood's red spray.
James Kenyon, 1892
The poet seems to suggest a metaphorical meaning for the Tiger Lily related to a painful loss of innocence that turns into a thing of beauty.
In the late 1800s, Alfred Tennyson Tennyson, an English Poet, wrote:Heavily hangs the broad sunflower Over its grave i' the earth so chilly;
Heavily hangs the hollyhock,
Heavily hangs the tiger-lily.
which also suggests a metaphor of sadness connected with beauty.
The popularity of tiger lilies suggests they will continue to inspire people for years to come.
© 2008 Patricia A. Michaels