Which Lilies are actual Lilies?

Lilies flowers

Did the title have you feeling a bit confused?

As it turns out, “Lily” is not only a popular girl’s name but also a favourite of many flower species.

It is quite common for the term “Lily” to appear in the names of many attractive flowering plants you see in bouquets or cultivated as ornamental plants.

Yet, not all lilies are, in fact, “true lilies.”

ornamental plants

Flowers in disguise

Popular throughout the world, lilies may be found in various sizes, hues, and patterns. But they are certainly not to be mistaken for any other type of flower. The other so-called “floral imposters” are just flowers that share no connection to true lilies other than having the word “lily” in their names.

True lilies have their exclusive insider’s club called the Lilium familyand some flowers just failed to make the cut (no pun intended).

Daylilies (genus Hemerocallis), arum lilies (Zantedeschia), and water lilies (Nymphaea) aren’t lilies at all. And neither are lilies-of-the-valley (Convallaria), peace lily (Spathiphyllum), or lilyturf (Liriope). And that’s not even all of them!

Even though they’re commonly referred to as lilies, they are not a real member of the Lilium family!

Become a True Lily Detective

So, precisely how can we distinguish the True Lilies from other sneaky imposters?

Botanically speaking, the flower should be listed as part of the Lilium flowering plant family and grown from a bulb of overlapping scales.

Lilium flowering plant family

But when it comes to identifying a True Lily, appearance matters too!

Lilies are among the most popular and are easily characterized by their striking, prominent blossoms. Even when there is an overwhelming number of lilies varieties, the flowers themselves hold distinguishing traits that make them easy to tell apart from others.

Lily basics

As we all know, most flowers have separate sepals that appear smaller and more leaf-like than their petals. And since the sepals and petals of lilies are the same colour and texture, many would be tricked into thinking that lilies have six petals.

In fact, all lilies have six tepals, which are made up of three petals surrounded by three sepals. And it seems that lilies love the number six. Not only do they have six tepals, but they also feature six long stamens projecting from the centre of the flower bulb, with each holding pollen-filled anthers.

Also, the leaves can be used as an apparent sign of which plant is the True Lily. The leaves on a True Lily, in contrast to those on an “imposter” lily, naturally grow in whorls or spirals throughout the length of the stalk.

pink flower

Their beauty is diverse

While all lilies share the same basic anatomy, the shape and colour of this flower can vary across different variations.

They exhibit an astounding colour palette, ranging from pale to intense shades, such as white, cream, and yellow, to orange, pink, and red. It’s almost as if they’re displayed in all the different tones of the colour spectrum, only except for the blues and purples.

Some lily blossoms showcase uniform colouring, while others flaunt contrasting colours through freckles or spots to give themselves more personality.

True lilies are most well-known for their star-shaped blooms, but they can also come in various forms, including trumpet-shaped, bowl-shaped, recurved, and even funnel-shaped.

Even within the same hybrid division, lily petals can also greatly differ from one another. As is the case of Asiatic hybrids, their flowers can either grow facing upwards or drooping down.

Lily flowers

Lilies are one of the true stars of the garden, as their majesty and diversity provide tremendous sources of inspiration for garden design. You can never go out of style with lily flowers!

Everlasting blooms

Lilies are among florists’ favourite choices to add a touch of brightness and elegance to any space.

They are renowned for their exceptionally long-lasting blooms, with each lasting at least a week, if not more.

Naturally, the lower buds on the stem tend to peak out first, and the remaining ones will open subsequentially, eventually becoming the focal point of any flower arrangement.

Florists’ little tip: your cut lilies might last even longer if the stamens were plucked off before the pollen had a chance to fall.

Without pollen to set off fertilization, the life cycle of lilies is circumvented. And since the thick pollen can leave unsightly stains on clothing, removing the stamens would quickly eliminate this painful problem.

white lilies

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