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Lilium majoense

Articles: Lilium majoense

Lilium majoense Photographs by Riz Reyes

For many, Lilium ‘Stargazer’ and ‘Casablanca’ satisfy the need for a garden lily or a long-lasting cut flower. For us lily enthusiasts, the thousands of hybrids in cultivation continually dazzle us with their color contrasts, sultry scents, and vigor. It can be confusing to keep up with all the modern laboratory techniques for propagation and the curious marketing claims of “lily tree” and “Orienpet.” If we take a journey past the florist shops and bulb catalogs, and return to the forests of China where so many lilies originated and where botanists quarreled over their identity, we might discover that modern day introductions are just as complex and, perhaps, a little more intriguing.

Several years ago, a stunning photograph of an exquisite white lily, heavily speckled in near black, captured the attention of nurserymen and avid plant collectors worldwide. Many willingly paid six dollars for a bulb of “L-11: Lilium sp. (2) (fragrant),” in a transaction later dubbed equivalent to purchasing an endangered species on the black market.

After a long initial journey, f...

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