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A Group Of Wild Flowers
Wildflower Families:
 Mustard Barberry, Spiderwort And Phlox Families

 Lily Family

 Lily-of-the-valley Family

 Madder Family

 Violet Family

 Iris Family Iridaceae

 Geranium Family

 Birthwort Family

 Primrose Family

 Milkwort Family

 Read More Articles About: Wildflower Families

Lily Family

( Originally Published 1908 )


FEW families of wild flowers are more distinctive or more beautiful than that of the Lilies. The conspicuous blossoms consist of three sepals and three petals which are frequently similar in structure and appearance and which, taken together, are called the perianth. Within these six parts of the perianth there are generally six stamens and a single central pistil, with three divisions of the ovary and three lobes of the stigma. The plant arises from a bulb and commonly has a single erect stem along which in the typical lilies are sessile alternate leaves. The filament is commonly attached to the anther at the middle of the latter, a condition in which the attachment of the anther is said to be versatile.

Dog's-TOOTH VIOLET. The word that is most expressive of the character of the Yellow Trout Lily or Dog's-tooth Violet is grace. In few plants are the simple lines of a graceful picture so well shown as in this: from the grassy bank there rises a cylindrical stem which on each side gradually enlarges into a thickened leaf with smooth margins, rounded and lovely surfaces and a tip that is neither too pointed nor too obtuse.

From between the bases of the leaf rises the slender stem of the flower, showing the slight and inimitable curves of a living thing and arching near the end to hold the bell-like blossom, which is in itself a marvel of pensile grace. In the middle of the latter the stamens and pistils hang downward, the stamens near the petals and the pistil projecting straight out from the center, appearing as a prolongation of the blossom stem.

The plant as a whole is a charming example of that harmonious asymmetry dear to the art of the Japanese. The colors also are in harmony with the simple outline of the plant : the leaves are of varying shades of green, mottled with rather indistinct markings of a dull whitish color or of a faint purplish hue, while the blossom is a lovely yellow, having occasionally a purplish tinge.

The Dog's-tooth Violet, often called also the Adder's Tongue, is one of our earliest flowers, appearing in April and lasting well into May. From the situations where it is most commonly found one would think that it loved the music of the little rivers, lingering near to listen to the gladsome songs of these " in the season of their prosperity." But it also habitually occurs in open groves and even along the borders of the forest. In rainy weather and at night the flowers close, but they open again upon the appearance of sunshine and are said to turn on their stalks to follow the sun. The blossoms are freely visited by many bees, by which cross-pollination seems to be very generally brought about.

In the western states the White Adder's Tongue is found. This plant bears a general re-semblance to the yellow species but it has much longer lobes of the stigma. The blossoms some-times vary from white to blue or purple.

BELLWORTS. The Bellworts are very generally classified with the Lily family, although some re-cent authors have placed them next to this family in the Bunchflower family. Three species of Bell-worts are commonly found in the north-ern and eastern states. In general appearance when growing they resemble one a n o t h e r, although they may easily be distinguished by the leaves. In two species葉he Perfoliate Bellwort and the Large-flowered Bellwort葉he stems run through the leaves near the base while in the third葉he Sessile-leaved Bellwort葉he leaves are simply sessile. Of the two first named the Large-flowered Bellwort can generally be distinguished by the size of its leaves and blossoms, which, on the average, are nearly twice as large as the Perfoliate species. A surer character, however, is found in the fact that in the former the under surface of the leaves is pubescent while in the latter it is glabrous or glaucous.

All three of these Bellworts inhabit the same situations : they are lovers of moist and shady woods. Over a wide range容xtending from Canada to Georgia and west beyond the Mississippi葉hey may be found in bloom about the middle of the spring season. In the latitude of southern New England the height of the flowering season comes early in May.

The structure of the plant in all three species is delicate : the stems are slender, swaying with the slightest breeze; the oval leaves are thin and semi-transparent, bending of their own weight; the flowers droop modestly on fragile stalks, their light yellow tints scarcely serving to render them conspicuous to human eyes, although they are readily found by bumble-bees, which visit them freely. Few plants of similar size are so likely as these to be overlooked by the careless stroller in the May woods. On account of their fragile structure they wilt quickly when picked, another reason why they are not more generally known. But as types of gentle modesty the Bellworts add a peculiar charm to the spring woodlands, serving admirably as a foil to the somewhat flaunting beauty of the Painted Trilliums and other more venturesome plants.

LILIES. July is the month of the lilies葉he glorious flowers which so long have served as types of grace, purity and beauty. In all of these the structure is simple, yet there is a decided difference in the appearance of the various sorts. If we stop to consider the reasons for this difference we see at once that it is due chiefly to two causes 幼olor and position. All of our common lilies are constructed on the same general plan : there are six petal-like divisions which form the perianth, an equal number of stamens, and a single pistil. The great and striking differences apparent in different sorts of lilies are chiefly due to variations in the color of the blossom and the position in which it is attached to the stem.

CANADA LILY. One of the most familiar lilies in the northern states is the Canada Lily or Wild Yellow Lily, the flowers of which are represented on the opposite page. The bell-shaped blossoms hang down nearly vertically, with the pollen-bearing anthers of the stamens in a cluster where the clapper to the bell would be. Just below these anthers and projecting from the middle of them is the stigma on the end of the pistil. The number of blossoms on a plant varies from one or two to ten or twelve. These lilies grow along streams and in meadows where the yellowish red flowers are conspicuous above the grass. Here they are seen by various bees容specially the mason or leaf-cutting bees謡hich alight upon the stigma and anthers. They collect pollen from the latter, and perhaps they crawl up the filaments of the stamens to reach nectar at the top of the bell. In thus going from blossom to blossom, the bees brush the grains of pollen upon the stigmas of new flowers and cross-pollination is brought about.

These lilies blossom in midsummer when the bees are most abundant; they are chiefly found in open sunny places, such as the bees frequent; and they are of a color easily seen by daylight. In each of these ways they are well adapted to cater to the bees that pollenize them.

The Canada Lily is a widely distributed species, ranging from Nova Scotia and Minnesota in the north to Georgia and Missouri in the south.

WOOD LILY. Entirely different in appearance is the more reddish Wood Lily or Philadelphia Lily in which the flower is held straight up, and so loses the graceful curves that add so much attractiveness to the species with supended blossoms. This seems to prefer drier situations than the Canada Lily, and is found also in more restricted regions, its range being given by the latest authorities as " Maine to Ontario, south to North Carolina and west to Virginia." The petals are generally of a bright red color, being narrowed below so that each flower appears open at the base. The stamens and petals are of about the same length, and project upward in the middle of the blossom. To me this species is most attractive when there is but one blossom on a stalk, as in the picture opposite, but plants with two, three or even four flowers are not uncommon.


There are various other species of wild lilies often to be found. The beautiful Turk's-cap Lily of our meadows and marshes is one of the most attractive of these. It is distinguished by its re-curved petals of an orange-yellow color 容specially toward the ends, with numerous tawny spots upon the front surface. The anthers hang downward, though not always in a vertical position, and the stigma does not project beyond them. I should think that the flower would be pollenized by bees similar to those which pollenize the yellow Canada Lily.

In the West there is a Red Lily quite similar to the Philadelphia Lily in appearance, while in the South there is still another similar species. The Carolina Lily is an attractive flower found in dry woods in the southern states.

In the older settled regions of the United States the Tiger Lily is not uncommon as an escape from cultivation. It usually marks the site of a ruined or deserted homestead. The magnificent flowers are always attractive and add greatly to the roadside scenery.

To gild refined gold, to paint the Lily,
To throw a perfume on the Violet,
To smooth the ice, or add another hue
Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.


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