Lily Trivia

Little known facts about lilies and their sources:

Prevention Magazine says " All lilies of the fragrant Lilium species are medicinal, including `Star Gazer.' "

"Use [Easter lilies] as first-aid medicine! According to clinical herbalist Douglas Schar, DipPhyt, MCPP, MNIMH, who practices in London and Washington, DC, lilies belong to the same family as garlic and onions. Like their cousins, lilies are rich in aromatic antimicrobial oils, which make them excellent antiseptics. …In fact, you may find them to be even more effective than aloe vera in soothing minor abrasions. "I think a lily tincture might be a superior first-aid alternative to overly used antibiotic ointments," says Schar."

Lilies Real or Not?
Judith Taylor of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society recently wrote: "Flowers loosely called ”lilies” appear intermittently through history. There are the flowers in the Bible, as in “consider the lilies of the field, they toil not neither do they spin”. There is no way of knowing which flowers were meant but it is highly probable it was not Lilium. The French kings’ symbol, the “Fleur de Lis” is clearly not a lily but an iris. Closer to our own gardens “lilies of the valley” are not lilies either, but belong to the genus Convallaria. While we are on this subject, what of the old proverb about not gilding the lily? The flowers are so perfect how could anyone improve them? All of this lore shows just how long the lily has been part of our civilization and culture." [WH-s3]

From Latin lilia with the plural form of lilium "a lily" as well as the Greek leirion and Old English lilie. Possibly a mispronunciation of an Egyptian word. Used in the Old Testiment as a translation from the Hebrew Shoshanna and in the New Testiment to translate the Greek krinon. It was applied to a particular plant (Convallaria majalis) first by sixteenth century German herbalists.$

"The use for ornamental or symbolic purposes of the stylised flower usually called fleur de lis is common to all eras and all civilizations. It is an essentially graphic theme found on Mesopotamian cylinders, Egyptian bas-reliefs, Mycenean pottery, Sassanid textiles, Gaulish and Mamelukk coins, Indonesian clothes, Japanese emblems, and Dogon totems. The many writers who have discussed the topic agree that it has little resemblance to the lily, but they disagree as to whether it derives from the iris, the broom, the lotus, or the furze; others believe it represents a trident, an arrowhead, a double axe, or even a dove or a pigeon. It is in our opinion a problem of little importance. The essential point is that it is a very stylized figure, probably a flower, that has been used as an ornament or an emblem by almost all civilizations of the old and new worlds."(

Add unnecessary adornment or supposed improvement. For example, Offering three different desserts after that elaborate meal would be gilding the lily. This expression is a condensation of Shakespeare's metaphor in King John (4:2): "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily ... is wasteful and ridiculous excess."%


WH-1 and 2.
Goldstein, Laura. "Healing Power of Easter Lilies." Prevention 53.4 (April 2001): 169. Health Reference Center Academic. Gale. Boston Public Library. 18 May 2010
WH-3. Review (of Lilies: A Guide for Growers) by Judith M. Taylor, M.D.; 2010; www., The San Francisco Garden Club, and Member of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society; Article accessed on May 23, 2010 at:

$-lily. (n.d.). Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved May 13, 2010, from website:
(-Michel Pastoureau (2006) //Traité d'Héraldique// (//Treatise on Heraldry//, translated by François R. Velde
%-gild the lily. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Retrieved May 17, 2010, from website: the lily