|The Madonna Lily (Lilium candidum)
Species: L. candidum
The American Heritage Dictionary (1994) describes lilies as, “any of various plants of the genus Lilium, having variously colored, often trumpet-shaped flowers”. Lilies are beautiful flowers ranging in size, colour and form. There are over 110 species of lilies. To be more specific, the Madonna lily happens to be my preferred flower.
Madonna lilies are white flowers with a yellow throat at the base. The Madonna lily is one of the oldest cultivated lilies. This flower generally blooms in early to midsummer during the months of July to August. Madonna lilies are a funnel-shaped, fragrant flower with very tall stems which can reach heights of approximately 2 meters.
In addition, the Madonna lily is one of the true lilies, while other plants with ‘lily’ in the name are related to other plant groups. It is believed to have been cultivation since 1500 BC, at the time of the Minoans. Lilies are native to the northern temperate regions. However, Madonna lilies are particularly found in the Balkans (southeastern Europe) and West Asia. They reached Western Europe via Phoenician traders.
For many years, the Madonna lily has been seen as a symbol of purity and innocence for its colour and soft complexion. Consequently, medieval depictions of the Virgin Mary portray her tightly clutching the Madonna lily. Next, unlike other lilies, it is not stem rooting and should be planted with the top of the bulb only a few inches below the surface of the soil. The soil should be rich and well-drained. Typically, these lilies are found in gardens.