Lilium superbum

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Turk's cap lily
Lilium superbum in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Scientific classification
L. superbum
Binomial name
Lilium superbum
L. 1753 not Thunb. 1784
  • Lilium fortunofulgidum Roane & J.N.Henry
  • Lilium gazarubrum Roane & J.N.Henry
  • Lilium mary-henryae Roane & J.N.Henry

Lilium superbum is a species of true lily native to the eastern and central regions of North America.[2][3][4] Common names include Turk's cap lily,[2] turban lily,[3] swamp lily,[5] lily royal,[5] or American tiger lily.[citation needed] The native range of the species extends from southern New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York, west to Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas, and south to Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. [2][6]


Lilium superbum grows from 3–7 feet (0.91–2.13 m) high with typically three to seven blooms, but exceptional specimens have been observed with up to 40 flowers on each stem.[3] It is capable of growing in wet conditions.[7] It is fairly variable in size, form, and color.[3] The color is known to range from a deep yellow to orange to a reddish-orange "flame" coloring with reddish petal tips.[3] The flowers have a green star at their center that can be used to distinguish L. superbum from the Asiatic "tigerlilies" that frequently escape from cultivation.[4]


The roots were a food source for Native Americans, and the flowers provide nectar for hummingbirds and larger insects.[8]


It is listed as endangered in Florida, New Hampshire, Alberta and Saskatchewan and threatened in Kentucky, and exploitably vulnerable in New York.[2]


The common name is derived from the reflexed shape of the flower petals, which presumably resemble a type of hat worn by early Turkish people.[9]



Cats are extremely sensitive to lily toxicity and ingestion is often fatal;[10][11][12] households and gardens which are visited by cats are strongly advised against keeping this plant or placing dried flowers where a cat may brush against them and become dusted with pollen which they then consume while cleaning.[13] Suspected cases require urgent veterinary attention.[14] Rapid treatment with activated charcoal and/or induced vomiting can reduce the amount of toxin absorbed (this is time-sensitive so in some cases vets may advise doing it at home), and large amounts of fluid by IV can reduce damage to kidneys to increase the chances of survival.[14]


  1. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  2. ^ a b c d United States Department of Agriculture plants profile
  3. ^ a b c d e Blanchan, Neltje (2005). Wild Flowers Worth Knowing. Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.
  4. ^ a b Connecticut Botanical Society
  5. ^ a b "Lilium superbum". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  6. ^ Biota of North America Program 2014 county distribution map
  7. ^ Synge, Patrick M. Collins Guide to Bulbs. (1961)
  8. ^ Illinois Wildflowers
  9. ^ Lady Bird Johnson Wild Flower Center, University of Texas
  10. ^ Frequently Asked Questions No Lilies For Cats.
  11. ^ Fitzgerald, KT (2010). "Lily toxicity in the cat". Top Companion Anim Med. 25: 213–7. doi:10.1053/j.tcam.2010.09.006. PMID 21147474.
  12. ^ Turk's cap lily is pure delight The Guardian.
  13. ^ The Valentine bouquet that killed my cats: Mother's Day warning on lethal lilies Daily Mail.
  14. ^ a b Lily Poisoning in Cats. Pet MD.

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