Friday, June 22, 2007
Farmer Lilies in Bloom!
In this area, these flowers are called farmer lilies. Apparently, nearly everywhere else they are called tiger lilies and apparently also “ditch” lilies, which certainly is a good, if not elegant, description of where they like to grow. This variety is a native plant and is both hardy and perennial. It grows happily in wetter areas (like ditches) and seems to prefer poor soil. The plant has few if any insect or disease problems, though snails and slugs can damage it.
The roots were eaten by native Americans for medicinal use, mostly for nausea apparently. There is also a non-native cultivated flower with the same name that grows from bulbs. This native version is tuberous and can simply be divided and planted where you want them.
I’m assuming the local name of farmer lilies came because this was a plant preferred by farm wives, who likely had little extra cash to buy flowers but soon learned that this plant could be dug up from the local cow pasture and planted in front of the farmhouse. The plants are certainly the showiest of the local wildflowers. It isn’t uncommon to see them lining the edge of a roadside for half a mile or more, hundreds of flowers in bloom at once. It doesn’t get any showier than that!
The flowers bloom for weeks, closing up each night and opening again in the morning sun. I find them all over the place, even on the mountain at Roundtop. I find them along roads and paths, at the edges of the slopes, all over the place but I never get tired of seeing them. Or photographing them, so let's just say I'm giving my readers fair warning that this won't be the last photo of them you are likely to see this summer.