Plant Collector: Lilium formasanum

An update on this story is in Banned Plants. Somewhat to my embarrassment, it appears that Lilium formasanum is on the pest plant list in NZ and banned from sale.

The last of the lilies to flower

The last of the lilies to flower

The last of the lilies for the season is flowering now. Lilium formasanum hails, as older readers and plants people will know, from the island of Taiwan, which was formerly known as Formosa. It is another trumpet type of lily. Ours are all seedlings scattered through parts of the garden now and essentially white. Some forms have more of a pink to purple flush or streaking on the backs of the petals. The stems can be tall at up to 1.8m so it is easiest to have them growing amongst other plants which can give some support. I admit our self sown seedlings tend to flop around and need to be leaned up against nearby shrubs where there are some available.

As with lilies in general. L. formasanum prefers full sun but is not fussy about soil types. In fact it is not fussy about much at all and gently seeds down through our open woodland areas, flowering freely in late summer. By open woodland, I mean a high leafy canopy which allows good light levels but no direct sun. Unlike many other bulbs, formasanum does not take long to flower from seed. Where it has seeded down naturally, we think that it flowers two years from seed but according to bulb expert, Terry Hatch, if you gather the seed when it is ripe in autumn and sow it in early spring, you can get it flowering by late summer. That is a quick turnaround though you will only get a single flower, not the cluster in that first year. Its light foliage means that it will die down gracefully in autumn and yes it does have a scent, though only a light one.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.

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6 thoughts on “Plant Collector: Lilium formasanum

  1. ErinErin

    Hi Abbie, lovely to see this lily starring in your writings. Up here in Kerikeri and the surrounds of the land out to the Bay of Islands, L. formosanum has naturalised along the roadsides. They grow very tall even on poor clay banks. In an ironic sense many folk gather the seed to bring it back to their gardens so there is a full circle of culviated/naturalised/cultivated planting. I wonder who first brought it here for their garden? I just thought I’d mention it in case any readers would like to gather from the abundance of seed forming right now.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Yes, we have it on our roadside too, but we do a certain amount of encouraging wild flowers there. The evening primrose and belladonnas are also doing well. We designated our road verges no spray zones so we take responsibility for them ourselves.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Oh my goodness, I see you are right. Not banned as in “must be removed” but certainly not allowed to be sold. How embarrassing (for me) – I didn’t realise. In our experience it is nowhere near the weed pest that the bangalow palm is, but I guess it may be worse elsewhere.

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