Lily Family – Liliaceae

This is a monocot family named after the genus Lilium which was named by Linnaeus from the Greek word leirion thought to be applied to the white-flowered Madonna Lily Lilium candidum. The Lily family has 15 genera and 705 species. Most species have a solitary flower. Garden flowers include Tulip, Erythronium, Fritillary (snake’s head or Imperial) and Lily (Lilium). Wild Tulip, Snake’s head fritillary and Martagon Lily are wild flowers native to Britain. The Lily genus Lilium has a worldwide distribution in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. This family is an economically important source of garden flowers, particularly Lily and Tulip varieties from Holland. Generally flowers are open and provide easy access to pollinators to collect pollen and sometimes nectar. 

Lily Lilium is a genus of approximately 100 species native to the Northern Hemisphere. Individual species have been cultivated for thousands of years for medicinal and ornamental purposes but since the end of the 19th century and particularly in the last 50 years plant breeders have created thousands of hybrids and now release over 100 new cultivars each year.

The  Tulip Tulipa genus with about about 75 species is native to mountainous areas of Eurasia and North Africa. The main area of diversity is Central Asia. Some species and many cultivars are planted in ornamental gardens where they are prized for their spring flowers. Early cultivars were developed in Persia in the 10th century and were common in the gardens of the Ottoman Empire. Introduced to Europe in the 16th century and Britain in 1578, they became incredibly popular in The Netherlandsin the 1630s in what became known as ‘tulip mania’.

The Fritillary genus Fritillaria has over100 species. They are native to Eurasia, North Africa and North America. They grow from bulbs.Snake’s Head Fritillary Fritillaria meleagris is a wild flower native to Europe and western Asia. It was namedby Linnaeus in the 18th century. It was cultivated as a garden ornamentalin Tudor Britain but was not recorded growing wild until 1736. It normally grows in Britain in damp meadows but elsewhere may have escaped from gardens. Fritillary refers to its chequered petals.