Wood lily

Lilium philadelphicum

Common Name: Wood lily

  • Stems are 12 – 32 inches tall.
  • A plant with up to five bright, reddish-orange or sometimes yellow upright flowers on one stem.
  • Can be seen from far off because of its vibrant color.
  • Flowers from June to August.

Native or Invasive: Native perennial

Characteristics: Stems are straight and grow from 12-32 inches tall. The leaves are about 2-4 inches long and narrow. Often, the uppermost leaves form a whorl (a circle of three or more plant parts originating at a node). In the Great Lakes, the leaves are usually alternate. Each stem supports up to five flowers that range from reddish-orange, red, orange, or occasionally yellow. The flowers are spotted with purple at the base. Each flower is made up of six petal-like structures, all of which look like petals. The bright petals help attract insect pollinators, which help the plants reproduce. The wood lily is found throughout the coastal Great Lakes region, as well as a few inland areas, and as far south as New Mexico and east to New Hampshire.

Habitat: Sands areas, especially sand dunes and open sandy woods, in the more northerly coastal areas. Also found in fens in the more southern parts of its range.

Fun Fact: In different areas, the wood lily is considered endangered or threatened. For instance, in Saskatchewan it is protected by a provincial order and cannot be picked, uprooted or destroyed in any way.

Ethnobotanical Uses: It has been used to treat all manor of injuries and illnesses, including bruises, coughs, dog bites, fever, sores and stomach problems. It was also used to add potency to other medicines.

Adapted from Guide to Great Lakes Coastal Plants, by Ellen Elliott Weatherbee, University of Michigan Press.