Canada Lily

Canada Lily

Common Name: Canada or Meadow Lily, Canada Martagon

Scientific Name: Lilium canadense

Description: Hardy, Eastern North American, mid-summer flowering bulb; Broadly trumpet shaped, yellow to yellow-orange flowers with rich, maroon-red spots in the center

Size: Flower stem grows 3 to 5 feet

Cultural Information: Prefers sun to part shade; moist, humus-rich loam

USDA Zones: 2 through 7

Historical Notes: This strikingly beautiful native lily was introduced to Europe in 1620. While living in Paris in 1786, Jefferson wrote to Philadelphia nurseryman John Bartram, requesting plants of "Lilium Canadense,"[1] and Bartram's 1783 broadside included "Lillium martagon." Jefferson bought some seeds of Lilium canadense, among other plants, from James Lee & Co. near London on April 24, 1786, and presented some or perhaps all of the seeds to French statesman Guillaume-Chrétien de Lamoignon de Malesherbes.[2]  Bernard McMahon, also from Philadelphia, listed "Canada Martagon Lily" in his book, The American Gardener's Calendar, 1806,[3] and early 19th-century gardener Jean Skipwith grew the "spotted Canada Martagon lily" at her southern Virginia home, Prestwould. 

- Text from Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants Information Sheet; additions by Anna Berkes, 8/15/13

Other References

1809 December 29.  (Jefferson to Ann C. Bankhead).  "à propos of plants, make a thousand acknolegements in my name & with my respects to mrs Bankhead for the favor proposed of the Cape Jessamine. it will be cherished with all the possible attentions: and in return proffer her Calycanthuses, Paccans, Silk trees, Canada martagons or any thing else we have."[4]

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