What Is Lilium?

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  • Written By: Dee S.
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2019
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Lilium is the genus name for about 100 flowering plants that are in the family Liliaceae, or lily. Most species in this genus are common across Europe, Canada, the United States, and Asia. Usually, the blooms have three petals that create six tepals and can be found in a wide range of colors. They are generally found in a variety of garden types and are often used in cut flower arrangements because of the brightly colored blooms. In addition, several species of bulbs in the genus Lilium are used in alternative medical practices and in Chinese medicine to treat a spectrum of ailments from tumors to coughs.

Since the genus Lilium includes a rather large number of different species, it is not surprising that the species vary widely. For example, some species, such as as L. philadelphicum, or the Wood Lily, grow to a height of about 1 foot (30.5 cm). In the alternative, L. humboldtii has been reported to reach heights of about 8 feet (243.8 cm). Some species grow blooms that are quite small, while others grow larger blooms up to about 10 inches (25.4 cm) wide. In addition, while many species of Lilium are fragrant, there are quite a few that have no fragrance at all.


There are many exceptions, but most plants in the genus Lilium grow best when they are in full or partial sunlight. One exception to this is the division of wild lilies that grow best in the shade of larger bushes or plants. The flowering plants usually grow from bulbs, though some grow from seeds as well. Typically, they do not grow during the winter months in colder climates, though there are some plants that require the cold rain and temperatures of the fall months in order to bloom.

There are a wide variety of uses for plants in the genus Lilium. For example, they are frequently seen in gardens, planted in the ground, in containers, and even inside the home. Since they come in many colors, such as purple, pink, yellow, red, orange, and white, they are often used in floral arrangements. In fact, many florists claim that the cut flowers will not wilt and dry out for approximately eight days.

People who practice alternative medicine or Chinese medicine may be familiar with the medical uses for some species of Lilium. For example, the white lily, also called the Madonna lily or L. Candidum, is used as an astringent. Liquid is extracted from the bulb and often used to treat tumors, ulcers, burns, or bruises as well. Another example includes the use of L. brownii to stop coughs and lower body temperatures during the heat of summer. Again, the bulb is used, but in this case, it is cooked and eaten.


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