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Michigan Lily


Common Name Michigan Lily

Latin Name: Lilium michiganense

[Pronounced: "LILL-ee-uhm mish-ih-gann-ENN-see"]

Type of Plant: Prairie Forb ("wildflower")

Identification Helps: This rare, beautiful wild lily is smaller than similar garden lilies. There are two similar wild lilies in Ohio, but only Michigan lily has the sepals and petals fully recurved (bent back) to the stem or suspended base of the flower. The petals of other native lilies are held away from the base of the flower.

Similar Species: Turk's cap lily, Lilium superbum, is very similar, but the ends of sepals and petals do not point back to the flower base. They tend to point upward toward the sky. Canada lily, L. canadensis, is a very similar species, commonly with orange-colored flowers in Ohio, with sepals and petals that tend to point sideways, not back toward the flower base.

There are some small technical differences between these three lilies dealing mostly with the shape of the sepal midrib. It appears that there are hybrids between Michigan and Canada lilies in Ohio.

Preferred Growing Conditions in the Wild: Naturally-occurring Michigan lilies grow exclusively on former tallgrass prairie sites.

Seasons of Growth and Bloom: This gorgeous wild lily is in bloom from late June through July.

Natural Distribution in Ohio: Michigan lily grows primarily in the former prairie areas in the western half of Ohio.

Description and General Information: Michigan lily can appear similar to the much larger orange garden lilies, but they are more refined and delicate. The plant grows up quickly from a thick, bulb-like root structure. It is never common. When found, refrain from touching the plant, as touched wild lilies are often consumed by deer, an act apparently prompted by the human scent on the flowers or leaves. When grazed by deer, the lily can go into dormancy for a year or more, remaining underground with little or no growth.