Michigan Lily (Turk’s Cap Lily)

Lilium michiganense
Liliaceae (Lilies)

Perennial lily with an unbranched, hairless stem, growing from a stout bulb. Flowers single or in whorls of 2-5, on stems arising from upper leaf axils, nodding, with 6 tepals (3 sepals and 3 petals, all 6 alike), orange with many purple spots, recurving; the 6 stamens and the stigma protrude prominently. Blooms June-July. Leaves lance-shaped, mostly whorled, sometimes alternate at the lowest and highest nodes, to 5 inches long and ¾ inch wide, roughened with minute, toothlike processes along the margins and veins.

Similar species: Tiger lily (L. lancifolium) has only alternate leaves and forms bulblets at leaf axils; a nonnative, it does not persist long out of cultivation. Wood lily (L. philadelphicum) has flowers erect, not nodding; possibly extirpated, it may still occur in some northern native prairies. Swamp lily (L. supurbum) has smooth leaves, lacking teeth; it has been found only in Perry County.

Height: 3–8 feet.
Habitat and conservation: 
Found in low woods, swampy meadows, moist areas in prairies, along streams, but sometimes on bluff ledges or other dry ground; also railroads and roadsides. Sometimes Michigan lily plants are found as colonies of small or spindly, nonflowering individuals. This is perhaps caused by excessive shading as trees form a closed canopy over formerly open areas. Such populations apparently can persist for many years without flowering.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Scattered statewide, but apparently absent from the Southeast Lowlands.
Human connections: 
Many people cultivate this native lily as a low-maintenance ornamental in flower gardens. It attracts hummingbirds and has no serious insect or disease problems.
Ecosystem connections: 
Sphinx and hummingbird moths and large butterflies visit the flowers, and a variety of mammals browse the foliage. Small rodents, such as voles, that burrow underground probably eat the bulbs.
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