Thursday, July 8, 2010

... and slender, native Columbia lilies

A fully open Columbia lily, with golden, gracefully curved petals spotted with dark mahogany freckles.
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Lilies are out not only in the gardens of Pacific Northwest, but they are also blooming wild on the mountainous, rocky slopes of the area. Tired from the 4th of July celebrations, we took our girls for an easy hike to the top of the Little Si just outside the Seattle metropolitan area. On the way up, we ate our lunch surrounded by peckish squirrels making eager calling noises for others to join the expected feast.

Mount Si hiding in the fleecy coulds, as seen from the top of Little Si.

Between the cliffs, the slopes were filled with slender lilies bearing their golden flowers with curved petals like glowing little lanterns. They were small, barely two feet high (0.5m), and most of them had only managed to produce one or two flowers at the top of their meager stems on the stony soil. Delicate and elegant, they looked almost out of place on the barren hillsides, like young ladies dressed to kill but nowhere to go...

*A newly opened bud; the tips of the petals are starting to curve upwards.
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Back home, I identified the flowers as Columbia lilies, Lilium columbianum, that grow on elevated hills from northern California to British Columbia. Their flowers resemble in appearance the "Turk's cap lilies" like Lilium martagon, L. henryi and L. tenuifolium, and they even share the typical whorl of leaves that grows circularly from the nodes of the stem.
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Despite all the other, lush vegetation we saw during the hike - ferns, salmonberries, giant redwoods - it was these glowing, fragile lilies that made the deepest impression on me. Maybe it was the crawl through the thicket to catch the photos, but afterwards I felt like a modern day plant explorer hunting for new treasures, despite actually having been only a couple of steps from a popular hiking track...
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4 comments:

NinaVästerplana said...

Vilken lycka o se dem i sin rätta omgivning! Här kan vi se dom på Göteborgs Botaniska Trädgård om vi har tur ;-)
Hoppas ni har´t himla gôrgôtt
Nina

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

Hej Nina, visst är det härligt att se växterna i sin egen omgivning. Bara jag skulle bli av med mitt otroliga habegär... man kan ju ändå inte ta med sig allt sedan. Och Göteborgs Botan står på listan av besökställen under sommaren, det är säkert!

Titania said...

I had a similar one of the pictured beauty. It has flowered for many years and then suddenly it was gone. Perhaps its bulb was eaten. I grow the white, divine Christmas lilies, they grow over 1.5 m but not as tall as the Himalayan Lilies. Thank you for looking into my other blogs.
I am sure you are excited to spend Christmas here, especially to meet up with family and friends. In case you come up to the Gold Coast let me know if you have time. All the best. T.

scottweberpdx said...

Beautiful...love these lilies, I feel so lucky any time I actually find them on hikes.