Stiff and straight with its simple, concise stalk and its whorls of leaves, the wood lily suddenly puts cups of flame in the shadows of the summer woods. Unlike the downward-hung hells of the Turk's cap or the yellow Canada lily, the wood lily faces its red-orange cups to the shafts of sunshine coming into the woods of June. Blindingly, the morning sun strikes that vivid blossom, and the light rays bounce off the brilliance so that the flower almost seems to hold an aura of light around it.
Lilium umbellatum Pursh.
June - July Woods.
Narrowly, the six red-orange petals taper to join the base of the flower where the stiff, upright stamens and the three-cleft pistil stand erect. There are a few spots of purple scattered purposefully on the bright yellow splash of color on the lower part of the petals. This is the flower and its dramatic power, its few and precise accents which make of the lily a splendid creature to discover in the woods.
The wood lily is rare in Illinois, but occasionally it is found in dry oak woods of northern Illinois - a few here and there, standing on two-foot stems, unbranched, with one flower at the top. There is one flower to make seeds. Then the purpose of the lily for that year is finished. One flower, one seed-pod, one stalk, one blub. A blazing lily is in bloom.