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Source: NALS Judging Handbook, Let’s Grow Lilies

Artwork: Virginia Howie

Flowers are produced at the top of the stem. Sometimes they are borne singly but with most cultivars they appear in an inflorescence. The inflorescence takes on many forms depending upon the species or hybrid and the culture. One of the interesting attributes of lilies is the great diversity in the form of color variations in the flowers, not only among the species, but especially among the hybrids. Technically the flower consists of: the perianth, which is composed of an outer calyx of three sepals plus a corolla of three petals; six stamens; and a pistil. The sepals and petals which for all practical purposes are indistinguishable from each other are called tepals; thus the six tepals make up the perianth.

PERIANTH . . . The six segments (3 petals and 3 sepals) that compose the lily flower.

  The six stamens are each composed of the filament and the anther where the pollen is produced. In the very center is the pistil which is composed of the style with the stigma at the top and the ovary at the base. The ovary develops into a many‑seeded capsule.

PISTIL . . . The central female part of the flower, composed of OVARY, STYLE and STIGMA.

OVARY . . . Thick part of the PISTIL where it joins the stem. It contains OVULES which, when fertilized, become the seed. A single ovary may contain as many as 2,000 ovules.

STYLE . . . The long slender part of the PISTIL . . . Bears the STIGMA on its tip, and joins the OVARY at the other end.

STIGMA . . .The "knob" on the end of the PISTIL which receives the POLLEN. A sticky substance called STIGMATIC FLUID bathes the stigma when it is "ready," holds the pollen and stimulates it to germinate.

FILAMENT . . . Stalk of the STAMEN which supports the POLLEN‑bearing ANTHER at its tip.

NECTARY (or NECTARY‑FURROW) . . . Nectar producing groove at base of a PERIANTH SEGMENT . . . often in a contrasting color to form a pronounced "star."

PAPILLAE ... Tiny projections surrounding the NECTARIES in certain lilies, giving a "whiskered" look. (Examp. L. speciosum and L. henryi)


  Flower Forms and Placement

  Because some of the hybrid group (Divisions) are so varied, it is desirable to subdivide them, especially for show purposes. Usually this is done on the shapes of the flowers, the way they are placed or carried in the inflorescence, or on the basis of other characteristics.












Types of Inflorescence

INFLORESCENCE . . . The part of the lily stalk that bears the flowers and buds. It may be in the form of a RACEME or UMBEL.

RACEME . . . Simple Inflorescence with flower stalks spaced fairly evenly one above the other to the top of the stem.

UMBEL . . . A cluster of flowers radiating from a common point at the top of a stem like the ribs of an umbrella, or out like the spokes of a wheel.


PENDANT‑TYPE . . . Lilies that hang down . . . Especially refers to Trumpet and Aurelian types.

SUNBURST‑TYPE . . . A lily of the Aurelian group which has a flat star‑shaped flower.






BOWL‑SHAPED . . . Lilies having flowers that are clearly bowl shaped and outward facing.

REFLEXED (Type of flower) . . . Petals sharply recurved. . . bent back.






TRUMPET‑TYPE . . . Trumpets or Aurelians which have a trumpet shape.



It is important that one learns the correct name for the various parts of the lily plant and flower. Only by the use of the correct terminology can one describe or discuss intelligently the characteristics of lilies.

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