Naturally Speaking: Michigan lilies

By: 
Jerry Davis

Michigan lily. (By Jerry Davis)

The plant is Michigan lily, but it is native and continues to grow here in diminishing populations.  Other names, including Turk’s-cap lily, have been used for Lilium michiganense. Most of those common names are a better fit for something else.

The blooms, pollinated by swallowtail butterflies and sometimes ruby-throated hummingbirds, are perfect flowers because stamens as well as pistils are present. It’s also complete, having sepals and petal, even though those two parts are so much alike they are called the six tepals. Complete flowers have all four flower parts.

Moist areas along roadsides are good habitat for Michigan’s, but road mowing and deer browsing continue to put a dent in the population.

This lily is as tall as the tallest plants growing nearby, but not much more. The red-orange color of the tepals shows when the flowers are open, but this plant is still easy to miss.

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