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Martagon Lily

Lilium martagon

  • Name also: Turk’s Cap Lily
  • Family: Lily Family – Liliaceae
  • Growing form: Perennial herb. Bulb underground.
  • Height: 70–150 cm (28–60 in.). Stem rigid, unbranched, middle part leafy, glabrous–hairy, green–violet.
  • Flower: Perianth regular (actinomorphic), purple–dark red (occasionally white), approx. 4–5 cm (1.6–2 in.) wide. Tepals 6 in 2 similar whorls, recurved, with purple or brown spots. Stamens 6. Gynoecium composed of 3 fused carpels, ovary trilocular, style solitary. Inflorescence a 5–10(-20)-flowered raceme, flowers nodding.
  • Leaves: At base whorls of 4–9 leaves, alternate at top. Blade elliptic–obovate, flat, parallel-veined, with entire margin.
  • Fruit: Obovoid, loculicidal (6-edged, 3-parted) capsule.
  • Habitat: Yards, parks, gardens, forest margins, broadleaf woods. Ornamental, quite often an escape and leftover from cultivation.
  • Flowering time: July–August.

Martagon lily’s natural spread covers wide areas of Eurasia and stretches to Estonia and the northern Central Urals. It also has a long history as a garden plant: it has possibly been known in Sweden since the Middle Ages and in Finland since the 19th century. Martagon lily is quick to flee the flower bed and take up residence around dwelling areas and even in the forest. Stands can be found across Finland, and sometimes the species has been successful in Finnish conditions too, growing in the same area for dozens of years.

New plants that grow from seeds or lateral bulbs gather strength during their first year, protected by only one spoon-shaped leaf. Later in the spring martagon lily grows a dense rosette, which stretches throughout the summer into leaf-whorls separated by internodes. After midsummer the opening flower changes colour from violet to white and different shades of red, usually with dark spots. The strongly recurved tepals make the flower look like a turban, especially a particular kind, which is one explanation of where the plant’s scientific name came from. The flowers are fragrant only in the evenings and night – pollination is carried out by moths which hover in place and are able to suck the nectar with their long proboscises. After flowering the downward curve of the flower-stalks is reversed and the capsules end up in an erect position. After withering the rigid stem supports the fruits under the snow – martagon lily sticks out during the winter. As the wind blows the seeds rattle against the dry walls of the capsule until they fall out in a hard enough snowstorm.

Orange lily (L. bulbiferum) also escapes in the same way as martagon lily, but much more rarely and to places that are much more heavily influenced by people. Tiger lily (L. lancifolium) is known as an ornamental, and it doesn’t go wild so easily.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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