This section is from the book "Handbook Of Hardy Trees, Shrubs, And Herbaceous Plants", by W. Botting Hemsley. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of hardy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
Herbaceous plants with scaly bulbs, simple leafy stems branched only in the inflorescence, if at all, and large showy white, yellow, orange, carmine, or red and orange, often spotted or striped flowers. Perianth-segments free, erect, spreading, or reflexed, the three inner usually rather larger than the outer. Stamens 6, anthers on long slender filaments; pollen often orange or brown and very abundant. Fruit capsular, 3-celled and 3-valved; seeds numerous. Name from a lily; or, according to some writers, from the Celtic li, white. The Lilies are all natives of the northern hemisphere, chiefly in temperate regions, a few only reaching the sub-tropical parts of Asia. Several of the species may be counted amongst the oldest and handsomest hardy plants in cultivation, and some of those of more recent introduction are truly gorgeous in the splendour of their flowers. Of late the cultivation of these plants has considerably revived, partly, doubtless, in consequence of the discovery of many fine new forms; and at the present time the number of species and varieties in our gardens is very great. Most of the wild forms are tolerably distinct, but the species are ill-defined, and there are now so many varieties of an intermediate character in cultivation that it is a difficult task to refer them to their respective species, and one upon which no two writers would exactly agree. Some of these varieties are in all probability of hybrid origin, whilst the great majority are simply seed-variations. This genus has engaged the attention of several writers, and Mr. J. G. Baker published a synopsis of the species in the 'Gardener's Chronicle' of 1871, of which we avail ourselves in the following descriptions. We include the key in its entirety, as nearly all the species are in our gardens ; but we must limit ourselves to details of those species known to be in cultivation. All the species flower in Summer or early Autumn.
Bulbs tunicated; stigma with three subulate hooked lobes.
Stem stout, with 20 to 30 leaves crowded near the base L. roseum. Stem slender, with 6 to 8 scattered leaves . L. Hookeri.
Bulbs scaly; stigma with three short obtuse lobes.
Eulirion. Filaments nearly parallel. Perianth-segments broadest above the middle, recurved only towards the tip.
Leaves on long petioles, cordate-ovate
L. cordifolium. L. giganteum.
Leaves sessile, linear or oblanceolate.
Leaves always scattered irregularly on the stem.
Flower narrowed suddenly into a long tube . L. longiflorum. Flower narrowed gradually to the base.
Leaves 12 to 20. Flowers 5 to 9 inches long; segments 1 1/2 to 2 inches broad L. Japonicum. Leaves 30 to 50. Flowers 3 to 5 inches long; segments an inch or less broad . . L. Nepalense. Leaves 60 to 100. Flowers 2 to 3 inches long; segments under an inch broad . . L. candidum. Leaves in regular whorls . . . . L. Washingtonianum.
Archelirion. Filaments very divergent. Perianth-segments not erect, ovate-lanceolate, recurved from below the middle.
Leaves linear, sessile, with bulblets in their axils . L. tigrinum. Leaves lanceolate, shortly petiolate, without bulblets.
Lower leaves l 1/2 to 2 inches broad, 7- to 9-ribbed L. speciosum.
Lower leaves 1 to 1 1/4 inch broad, 5- to 7-ribbed L. auratum.
Isolirion. Filaments slightly divergent. Perianth - segments erect, broadest at the middle; and spreading only above the middle.
Leaves usually in regular whorls.
Flowers 2 to 3 inches deep; segments distinctly clawed
Flowers 1 1/4\ inch deep; segments not clawed L. medeoloides.
Leaves never in regular whorls.
Flowers red and yellow; segments 2 to 4 inches long, distinctly clawed. Stem glabrous; leaf-axils never bulbiliferous L. Catesbcei.
Stem cottony; leafraxils often bulbiliferous L. bulbiferum.
Flowers red and yellow; segments 1 to 2 inches long, without claws. Leaves glabroug, linear L, pulchellum.
Leaves pubescent, lanceolate. . . L. concolor.
Flowers white, under an inch long . L. lancifolium
Martagon. Filaments very divergent. Perianth-segments drooping, recurved from near the base.
Leaves usually arranged in regular whorls.
Flowers dull purplish-red, or rarely white . L. Martagon.
Flowers bright red, passing into yellow,
Style 6 lines long ...... L. maculatum.
Style 1 to 2 inches long . . . L. Ganadense.
Leaves never arranged in regular whorls. Leaves 1/2 to 1 inch broad, 5- to 7-nerved.
Perianth-segments 2 to 3 inches long, reflexed only from above the middle ... L, monadelphum.
Perianth-segments 1 to 2 inches long, reflexed from near the base. Leaves thick in texture, ciliated.
Perianth-segments 6 to 9 lines broad . L. Carniolicum. Perianth-segments about 3 lines broad , L. Ponticum. Leaves thin in texture, not ciliated . . L, pohyphyllum.
Leaves 1 1/2 to 3 lines broad, 3- to 5-nerved. Perianth-segments 1 1/2 to 3 lines broad. Leaves crowded, 50 to 80 on each stem.
Flowers bright red, not dotted . L. Chalcedonicum.
Flowers yellow, dotted . . . . L. Pyrenaicum.
Leaves not crowded, about 30 on each stem L. callbsum.
Perianth-segments 8 to 12 lines broad.
Leaves GO to 100 on each stem . . . L. testaceum. Leaves 20 to 30 on each stem L. Leichtlinii.
Leaves 1 to 1 1/2 line broad, 1-nerved.
Stem 1 1/2 to 3 feet high, with 80 to 100 leaves L. Ponvponium. Stem a foot high, with 30 to 50 leaves . . L. tenuifolium.
1. L. roseum, including L. Thomsonianum. - This is the only species in cultivation having a dense bulb enveloped in thin scarious coats like that of a Tulip. Stem stout, erect, glabrous. Leaves 20 to 30, crowded near the base of the stem, more distant upwards, linear, flat, indistinctly 10- to 12-ribbed; lower ones about a foot long, diminishing in size upwards, and passing gradually into bracts. Flowers racemose, 12 to 18 or more in well-grown plants, rosy-lilac, from 3 to 4 inches broad when fully expanded, sub-erect. Pedicels sub-erect or spreading, less than one inch long. Perianth-segments oblanceolate, somewhat obtuse. Filaments equalling the perianth; anthers purple. A native of the Western Himalayas, and a very pretty species, but rather tender with us. The variety bearing the latter name has larger flowers.
L. Hookeri, the only other species of this section, is not in cultivation. It is a native of the Sikkim Himalayas.