Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Lilium philadelphicum

Wood lily

Liliaceae (Lily Family)

Lilium philadelphicum (Wood lily)
Cressler, Alan
Wood lily’s stalk rises 1-3 ft. and is topped by upright, cup-shaped, purple-spotted, red-orange flowers. 1-5 funnel-shaped flowers, mostly red to orange with purplish-brown spots, on an erect stem with whorled leaves. There are usually one to four flowers per plant. The leaves of this perennial are long and narrow and arranged in whorls. (The lower leaves of the western variety, var. andinum, are scattered rather than whorled.) The fruit is a pod.

Once much more common than now. It is too often picked by visitors to the mountains. It also disappears rapidly from intensively grazed meadowland. The bulbs were gathered for food by Indians. A variety of this species, found in the Midwest, has leaves scattered along the stem. Among several southern species, the Southern Red Lily (L. catesbaei) has alternate, lanceolate leaves pressed against the stem, and the Orange Lily (L. bulbiferum), a European native, has sepals and petals downy within and bulblets in the axils of the upper leaves.

Image Gallery:

22 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Orange
Bloom Time: Jul , Aug


USA: AL , AR , CO , CT , DE , GA , IL , IN , IA , KY , ME , MD , MA , MI , MN , MT , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NY , NC , ND , OH , PA , RI , SD , TN , TX , VT , VA , WV , WI , WY , DC
Canada: AB , MB , ON , QC , SK
Native Distribution: S. Que. to s.e. B.C., s. to NC mts., NE & NM mts.
Native Habitat: Deciduous forest openings; prairies

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Well-drained, humus-rich soils.
Conditions Comments: Since there are different regional varieties of this species, it is important to use a reputable supplier as close to home as possible. Cross-pollination is necessary for wood lilies to produce seed, so if seed is desired, plant several bulbs. Bulbs may require protection from rodents.


Use Wildlife: Hummingbirds
Use Medicinal: Many tribes gathered the bulbs of wood lily for food and medicine. The bulbs are said to have an excellent flavour. As well, the abundant, nutritious pollen can be dusted on various dishes. Medicinally, the bulbs were once cooked and then applied to sores, bruises, swellings or wounds. They were also used to make a medicinal tea for treating stomach problems, coughs and fevers and for helping women in labour diliver the afterbirth. (Kershaw)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds , Hummingbirds

Last Update: 2015-06-18