Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Oriental Hybrid Lilium: The flowers gracefully unfurl...

The other day, my husband brought me a bunch of beautiful lilies (Oriental Hybrids) from Costco.   I could not stop telling him how much I liked them.  From a distance the flowers are pleasing to look at with the delicate shape of the six organized petals that gracefully open into a dramatic spectacle.  On closer scrutiny the flowers are not only elegant but amazing - a perfect explanation of a great design!

I have never owned an Oriental Hybrid plant or any of the Lilium species before so I have not had the chance to observe the plant personally.  Based on my research, I gathered that the Oriental Hybrid group is only one of the nine classifications of cultivated Liliums.  Genetically, these are hybrids derived from the following species:  L. auratum and L. speciosum[1] , and L nobilissimum, L. rubellum, L alexandrae, and L japonicum [2] along with several Japan native species.  The flowers are characteristically large and fragrant.  It contrasts with the rest of the traditional species with flowers that faces downward, these hybrids have flowers that are outward-facing as if looking up to the sky.  Lilium 'Stargazer', a common example of the Oriental Hybrid, got its name from this sky-pointing characteristic of its flowers.

'Stargazer' apparently originated in Humboldt County California through the genius of Leslie Woodruff, an independent plant breeder.  What is interesting is that for such a phenomenal flower, the exact parentage of this hybrid is not known because Woodruff did not document his breeding work in detail.  Obviously he was more concerned about the outcome than the process.  Fortunately this plant can be cloned easily - thus its characteristics are maintained and preserved.

The flowers looks angular when they are unopened.

Pin cushion-like stigma

Apparently there were two varieties (identities unknown to me) included in the bouquet I got... A pleasant provision!  The darker pink flowers boast broad stamens that are covered in golden pollen grains.  The filament that supports the stamen is light green in color.  At the center of the flower is the prominent pistil with a cushion-like stigma that resembles the appearance of a small head of cauliflower. 

Pollens seem loosely attached to the stamens.

The three-lobed stigma looks like a mini-cauliflower head

The other flowers are lighter in color.

The other variety is lighter in color with darker speckles that seem like "outgrowths" on the petals.  The filaments are greenish white in the center of the flower that gradually darkens towards the stamens.  The stamens are covered in chocolate-colored pollens.   The stigma is the same as in the other variety except that the color is purplish

Chocolate powder-like pollens cover the stamens.

Pistil: Purple pigmentation and sticky substance on the surface of the stigma

The filaments are white in the center and gradually darkening towards the stamen.

These stamens are beautiful...but today I had to ask one of my daughters to emasculate the flowers.  (Emasculation is the removal of the male reproductive parts of the flower, a procedure that is common in plant breeding.) The pollens contain natural dyes that can stain fabric - so this emasculation was done to protect the table cloth underneath the flower vase.  This is a recommended process for flowers that are used indoors - but since the sharp color of the pollens add so much to the beauty of the flowers; one can delay this process until the pollens begin to show signs of separation from the stamen.

 And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  ~ Matthew 6:28


fer said...

The flowers are beautiful!
Loved the little red dots on the inside.

p3chandan said...


Curbstone Valley Farm said...

I've always loved Stargazer lilies, especially their scent, but had no idea they were a Northern California creation! I found out the hard way many years ago about the staining qualities of the pollen, when a large bouquet shed pollen all over my ivory-colored tablecloth (forever after splotched yellow). All Stargazers are now promptly emasculated on arrival! ;)

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

Your close up shots of the pollen really highlight a beautiful part of the flower that sometimes goes unnoticed. I never focused on the different shades of pollen and how pretty they are. Carolyn

Carol said...

Happy New Year! Beautiful inner shots of the lily. I know too well how those lovely anthers can stain. I hate removing them but must when I do bouquets for clients. Pollen is an amazing subject!

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