AskDefine | Define lily

Dictionary Definition

lily n : any liliaceous plant of the genus Lilium having showy pendulous flowers

User Contributed Dictionary

see Lily

English

Etymology

From lilie, from līlium.

Pronunciation

  • /ˈlɪli/
  • Rhymes with: -ɪli

Noun

  1. Any of several flowers in the genus Lilium, which includes a great many ornamental species.
  2. Any of several species of herbaceous flower which may or may not resemble the genus Lilium in some way, and which are not closely related to it or each other.
flower in the genus Lilium

Extensive Definition

The genus Lilium are herbaceous flowering plants normally growing from bulbs, comprising a genus of about 110 species in the lily family, Liliaceae. They are important as large showy flowering garden plants, and in literature. Some of the bulbs have been consumed by people. The species in this genus are the true lilies, while other plants with lily in the common name are related to other groups of plants.

Range

Lilies are native to the northern temperate regions. Their range in the Old World extends across much of Europe, the north Mediterranean region, across most of Asia to Japan, south to the Nilgiri mountains in India, and south to the Philippines. In the New World they extend from southern Canada through much of the United States.
They are commonly adapted to either woodland habitats, often montane, or sometimes to grassland habitats. A few can survive in marshland and a single one is known to live as an epiphyte (L. arboricola). In general they prefer moderately acidic or lime-free soils.

Botany

Lilies are leafy stemmed herbs. They form naked or tunic-less scaly underground bulbs from which they overwinter. In some North American species the base of the bulb develops into rhizomes, on which numerous small bulbs are found. Some species develop stolons. Very few species form near the soil surface.
Many species form stem-roots. With these, the bulb grows naturally at some depth in the soil, and each year the new stem puts out adventitious roots above the bulb as it emerges from the soil. These roots are in addition to the basal roots that develop at the base of the bulb.
The large flowers have six tepals, often fragrant, and come in a range of colours ranging through whites, yellows, oranges, pinks, reds and purples. Markings include spots, brush strokes and picotees.
The plants are summer flowering. Most species are deciduous, but a few species (Lilium candidum, Lilium catesbaei) bear a basal rosette of leaves during dormancy.
Some species formerly included within this genus have now been placed in other genera. These include Cardiocrinum, Notholirion, Nomocharis and some Fritillaria.

Taxonomy

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Section Martagon

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