Lilium species profiles

  • A brief introduction to a species will appear below around every three months.

  • After reading this short introductory profile you are invited to contribute your experiences and photographs of this species. These contributions will be used to compile a more comprehensive Species Profile which will appear in ‘Lilies and Related Plants’.

Please send your contributions to Mel Herbert at

Lilium sulphureum Baker ex Hook.f.

In 1891 the Kew botanist John Gilbert Baker described a lily that had been introduced c. 1888 from the Shan States of northern Burma (Myanmar) under the name Lilium wallichianum var. superbum Baker (Baker 1891: 480).   A year later, in 1892, Sir Joseph Hooker as director of RBG Kew, took up Baker’s earlier suggestion that the plant which he had described as a variety of L. wallichianum may indeed be a new species and described it as L. sulphureum Baker ex Hook. f.  Around the same time several new lily species that had been collected by Jean-Marie Delavay from Yunnan Province, China, were described by the French missionary Adrien René Franchet. One of these he called Lilium myriophyllum Franch. the name being published only two months after the publication of L. sulphureum from Burma. It was later realised that these were the same species and Baker’s name published as a new species by Sir Joseph Hooker has priority.

This is a fine trumpet flowered species.  The large flowers, of good substance, range from white with just a hint of yellow in the throat to a quite strong primrose yellow and have varying degrees of purplish or greenish staining on the outer surface of the sepals.  These wonderfully scented blooms being carried on tall leafy stems which bear plentiful bulbils in the upper leaf axils.

Lilium sulphureum is fairly easily grown in pots of free draining compost and can also succeed in a sheltered spot outside.  It is readily propagated from the stem bulbils and can be raised from them to flowering size in about three or four years.  Seed usually germinates well but is not frequently available as it is difficult to ripen because of the plant’s late flowering nature.







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