Botany : Lilies (Lilium)

Chemistry, Biology and related disciplines

Worldwide Distribution of the Genus Lilium

Lilium Basics:

The genus Lilium is a member of the family Liliace which consists of over 200 individual species of flowering plants. They are found mostly in the northern hemisphere and are most popular as cultivated decorative garden plants. There are many flowering plants with the common name “lily” but only those of the Lilium genus are “true” lilies. (Waterlilies are part of the family Nymphaeaceae and are not true lilies.)
Lilies are perennial plants that utilize a bulb to store energy through seasons. They belong to the classification of monocots (plants which germinate with one seed leaf). They develop strong upright stems with long often pointed leaves with parallel veins.
The flowers of Lilium follow three basic shapes:
1. Turk's Cap- Leaves appear bent backwards
2. Bowl Shape- The flower is upright with straighter petals
3. Trumpet Shape- The petals form a tube which opens wide

Examples of Lilium Shapes:

Turk's Cap Bowl Shape Trumpet Shape

Each flower consists of six tepals which consist of three inner petals and three outer sepals.
They are often fragrant and come in a range of colors including white, red, orange, yellow and pink.
They have six filaments with six pollen-bearing anthers- these are the bright yellow pods that can stain your hands.

Flower Parts:


There are nine divisions of common garden Lilium. These are hybrids developed from certain parent species.
Division I- Asiatic Hybrids
Division II- Martagon Hybrids
Division III- Candidium Hybrids
Division IV- American Hybrids
Division V- Longiflorum Hybrids
Division VI- Trumpet Lillies
Division VII- Oriental Hybrids- some of the most popular species are from this division including the “Stargazer Lily” and the “Tiger Lily”- they have large, turned out flowers and you may have encountered some in your own garden
Division VIII- Other Hybrids
Division IX- Species- all natural species are included here

(1) map and illustrations from:
(2) North American Lily Society
(3) Wikipedia
(4) Garden Web

A full list of taxonomic names can be found on the Online Encyclopedia of Life under "lily" at: