Lily, a family of more than 250 genera of ornamental and useful plants. Lily is particularly the name of plants of the typical genus, the most representative group, of the lily family. Most lilies grow from bulbs, corms, rhizomes, or tubers. Lily flowers have three petals, three sepals, and three or six stamens. The fruit is a three-celled capsule or a berry.
Among the most useful members of the lily family are medicinal plants such as aloe, colchicum, smilax, and squill; food plants such as onion, garlic, and asparagus; and sources of perfume such as lily of the valley.
Some plants commonly called lilies do not belong to the lily family. These include the calla lily and water lily.Mariposa lilies have erect stems and grasslike or fleshy leaves that grow from bulb-like roots.
All members of the lily genus, the true lilies, grow from scaly bulbs. Many lilies produce annual fibrous roots from the underground part of the stem above the bulb. Lilies grow well in partial shade in sandy or loamy soil. Lily flowers, usually funnel-shaped but sometimes tubular, appear in white and a wide variety of colors. They are among the most beautiful of all flowers, and those of many species are fragrant.
As the symbol of the resurrection, lilies are exhibited at Easter. Easter lilies, which have pure white flowers, are usually either Madonna lilies or Bermuda lilies.
Many species and varieties of lilies are grown in gardens. One of the most popular is the regal, or royal, lily, which reaches a height of six feet (1.8 m). It bears fragrant, trumpet-shaped flowers up to six inches (15 cm) long. The flowers have pinkish-purple markings on the neck; the petals are white and the throat yellow.
The wildflowers of North America include a large number of lilies. Among the most attractive of these are the wood lily and the Turk's-cap lily of the East and the leopard lily of the Northwest.Wood lilies are North American wildflowers with orange-red petals and purple spots.
Lilies belong to the lily family, Liliaceae. The lily genus is Lilium. The Madonna lily is L. candidum; Bermuda (also called trumpet), L. longiflorum; regal, L. regale; wood, L. philadelphicum; Turk's-cap, L. superbum; leopard, L. pardalinum. Other familiar species are the tiger lily, L. tigrinium; and the meadow lily, L. canadense.