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Burbank’s Hybrid West Coast Lilies

Articles: Burbank’s Hybrid West Coast Lilies

Leopard lily (Lilium pardalinum). Photograph by Philip Van Soelen

Between 1875 and 1926, plant hybridizer Luther Burbank, uninhibited by then-current scientific opinion, made groundbreaking experiments on his farms in Santa Rosa and Sebastopol, California. He created many “impossible” hybrids and introduced close to 800 never-seen-before fruits and flowers. Among the most interesting and attractive results of his eagerness to “try everything” were hybrids created from the wild lilies of the West.

Burbank had pencil-underlined what he thought important in his copy of Notes on Lilies and Their Culture, by a Dr Wallace (New Plant and Bulb Company, Colchester, England, 1879), giving special attention to a section that listed the lilies of California, including Lilium washingtonianum, L. humboldtii, L. pardalinum, and L. parvum, plus four others whose names have since changed: L. bloomerianum (now L. humboldtii subsp. ocellatum), L. parviflorum (now L. columbianum), and L. canadense and L. californicum (both now L. humboldtii). Wallace commented on L. washingtonianum purpureum (now subsp. purpurascens), “or Eel...

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Articles: Calochortophilia: A Californian’s Love Affair with a Genus by Katherine Renz

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