Lily Potpourri … by Wallinda Hutson
A review of three very different and intriguing lilies .

Scientific Name: Fritillaria affinis (Schultes)
Alternative Names: checker lily, rice root fritillary, mission bells

Fritillaria affinis

Who knew there were flowers that had such a yummy common name as Chocolate Lily. It is named for one of its prominent characteristics -- brown-mettled bulbs. Unlike its candy namesake, which some say can lift depressed moods, this flower ironically appears to be in a bit of a depressed funk, the way it hangs its head low -- described by garden experts as “distinctly nodding”.

As its name suggests, this Chocolate Lily is eatable and was eaten by most Coast and Interior Salish peoples, either boiled or steamed in pits. Since the Chocolate Lily’s bulblets look like grains of rice, it is “also called rice root” by Indian people”. This flower should not be confused with Arthropodium strictum, who’s common name is also Chocolate Lily due to its chocolatey aroma. However, that flower’s color isn’t brown and isn’t really a member of the Lily family. However, there is another true lily, Fritillaria camschatcensis, who shares the common name Chocolate Lily. This flower is also known as “Black Lily”.

Sources: The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Plant Guide accessed on May 20, 2010 at

Image Source: Photo by Jackie Chambers of UBC Botanical Garden ; Botany Photo of the Day, May 1, 2008: Fritillaria affinis; retrieved May 21, 2010 at

Scientific Name: Lilum Regale
Alternative Names: Royal Lily; Trumpet Lily

Lilum Regale

Lilies are said to be the oldest recorded flowers. In my search to help validate this claim, I came across the “Regal Lily species, which has said to have been found carved on the walls of Ancient Egyptian pyramids. A world-reknowned plant collector, Ernest Henry Wilson, discovered the Regal lily in China in 1903. His writings and feelings about the flower first appeared in "The Lilies of Eastern Asia". Wilson’s observations of the Royal Lily , and in my opinion, may help substantiate the stamina of the lily and the validity of its long-standing claim as an ancient flower.


Lilies in the Valley, accessed on May 23, 2010 at
Lilies and the Arnold Arboretum. The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University web site. Accessed on May 23, 2010 at

Wilson, Ernest Henry 1876-1930; History of Horticulture website at:

Photo source:

Lilium regale in habitat, Wolong, Sichuan, China; June 18, 2004; This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons. It was accessed on May 23, 2010 at:

Scientific Name:
Rafflesia arnoldii
Alternative Names : Corpse flower

Rafflesia arnoldii
he flower Rafflesia arnoldii’s common name, Stinking Corpse Lily, is quite intriguing. I found it during a search for unusual information about lilies. It is named as such because While most references made about lilies are flattering, for example many refer to their “heavenly fragrance” or use such adjectives as majesty, wealth, pride, innocence, purity to describe something lily-like; I was intrigued and surprised when I discovered that the world’s largest and smelliest flower was called “Stinking Corpse Lily”. Rare and endangered, the flower only grows in the rain forests of Sumatra and in the Malay Archipelago in Borneo. Although it reeks like rotting flesh, this flower is only in full bloom for a week. The kicker is this “Lily” isn’t a member of the Lilleum family, it belongs to the Rafflesia family, a genus of parasitic flowering plants.


Armstrong, W.P. 1997. “Not All Flowers Smell As Sweet As A Rose” Wayne’s Word: Vol. 6 No. 2 Summer 1997. __

Wild Things: The Stinking Corpse Lily,;
The Genus Rafflesia; Biological Diversit 2003; __
Image Source: Photo Rafflesia arnoldii by ma_suska. March 2007; __