Outdoors,  Wildflowers

Overly Excited About The Wrong Plant


















We were driving down a two lane, very rural road in central Arkansas having just left Petit Jean State Park and Chris was intent on finding either Lilium superbum/Turks cap lily or Lilium mixhauxii/Carolina lily. I had a vague idea of what they looked like, lily-like you know, but having not recently seen a photo I had no idea for sure.

So, here we are driving along and looking at farm after farm with very tiny towns interspersed in between looking in roadside ditches as we got 60mph down the road. We slowed a couple of times for trumpet creeper and orange daylilies to get a better look only to find out they were trumpet creeper and orange daylilies. Then I spotted this patch of lilies which made us turn around, park the truck on an abandoned driveway entrance and walk over in the knee high and very itchy grass in the right-of-way and start taking photos.

I think maybe five cars passed by us while we were taking photos and Chris grabbed what we thought at the time was potentially the purple seed pods but now I know they are bulbils. Since neither of us had any kind of field guide with us we had to wait until we got to our hotel room that evening to look it up on the internet.

Chris dug in and start looking around feeling confident about the plants still being the Carolina lily or the Turks cap lily but he said he thought the seed pods didn’t match. That gave me an idea that perhaps they were Asian tiger lilies instead, the more common cultivated garden plant. I then got online and dug around and looked at the leaf structure of both the Carolina and Turks cap and they did not match our plants. Flowers were similar, yes, but leaves, no. Next I went for seed pods and up came a photo of exactly the plant we saw and it turned out to be….the Asian tiger lily, Lilium lancifolium. Darn!

Oh well, at least we took photos and had a little adventure! Now that I know kind of what the other two look like I will definitely know the difference next time. And it was a beautiful plot of plants!


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