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|Siroi lily growing in its native habitat, the Shirui Hill, Ukhrul, Manipur.|
Lilium mackliniae, the Shirui lily or Siroi lily, is a rare Indian species of plant found only in the upper reaches of the Siroi hill ranges in the Ukhrul district of Manipur, India, at an elevation of 1,730–2,590 metres (5,680–8,500 ft) above sea level. It is located near the boundary of Myanmar to the east, Shiroi village in the west, Choithar village in the south and Sihai village in the north.
This shade-loving lily has pale bluish-pink petals but has seven colours when observed through a microscope. In the wild it flowers in the monsoon months of June and July. They are seasonal flowering plants and at their best in May and June when it blooms. The peak season of its bloom is May 15 to June 5. The height of the plant is 1–3 feet (0.30–0.91 m). and has one to seven flowers per plant.
Its unique characteristic is that one can’t plant the flower in any part of the world besides the Siroi hill. During the British raj in Manipur, the British repeatedly attempted to propagate the flower to other places only to be faced with utter failure. After a prolonged effort, they gave up the attempt to do so. They felt Siroi lily was the daughter of the goddess, which rules the Siroi hill. Hence, one cannot separate the Siroi lily from the Siroi hills (truly endemic).
Frank Kingdon-Ward came to Manipur with his wife (the daughter of a Bombay high court judge) for botanical research, in 1946. They set up base at Ukhrul in a building which they called “Cobweb cottage alias Bug bungalow”. Frank made the exciting “discovery” of Siroi lily, and named it after his wife Jean Macklin; it was discovered in 1946. The lily won the merit prize of the 1948 Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) at a flower show in London (but no longer holds an Award of Garden Merit). The flower is compared to a beautiful and modest girl. The plant blooms in May–June, and is a tourist attraction in India especially the Northeastern part of India.
It is the state flower of Manipur, but unfortunately it has become an endangered species in India. A postal stamp was issued by the Indian Postal Department to commemorate this flower.
On 13 October 2013 Shajin Jinks, the head of the Department of Environment and Heritage of Goa, led an expedition to the Shiroi Hills to raise awareness to protect this endangered heritage.
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