Lilium candidum, the Madonna lily[2][3] or white lily,[4] is a plant in the true lily family. It is native to the Balkans and Middle East, and naturalized in other parts of Europe, including France, Italy, and Ukraine, and in North Africa, the Canary Islands, Mexico, and other regions.[1][5] It has been cultivated since antiquity, for at least 3,000 years,[6] and has great symbolic value since then for many cultures. It is susceptible to several virus diseases common to lilies, and especially to Botrytis fungus. One technique to avoid problems with viruses is to grow plants from seed instead of bulblets.

Lilium candidum
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Liliales
Family: Liliaceae
Subfamily: Lilioideae
Tribe: Lilieae
Genus: Lilium
L. candidum
Binomial name
Lilium candidum
  • Lilium peregrinum Mill.
  • Lilium album Houtt.
  • plus numerous names at the levels of varieties and subspecies

Description edit

It forms bulbs at ground level, and, unlike other lilies, grows a basal rosette of leaves during winter, which die the following summer. A leafy floral stem, which generally grows 1.2 metres (3 ft 11 in) tall, but exceptionally 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) tall, emerges in late spring and bears several sweetly and very fragrant flowers in summer. The flowers are pure white and tinted yellow in their throats.[7][8][9][10][11]

In culture edit

Madonna and child with Saints Anthony of Padua and Nicholas of Tolentino. Both saints are holding white lilies to symbolise their chaste life.

Madonna lilies are depicted in the fresco titled Prince of the Lilies in the ruins of the ancient Minoan palace of Knossos.

Some translations of the Bible identify the Hebrew word Shoshannah as "lily" in the Song of Songs: "As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters." (Song of Songs, 2:2 (KJV)) Customarily it is translated as "rose". For example, Abraham ibn Ezra described it as a white flower, which has a good fragrance, and has a six petaled flower and six stamens. But its identity is uncertain, because it typically grows in montane places and not in valleys as the phrase "the lily of the valleys" would have it. [clarification needed]

The Bible describes King Solomon's Temple as adorned with designs of Madonna lilies on the columns,[12] and on the brazen Sea (Laver).[13]

The white lily symbolizes chastity in the iconography of the Catholic Church and some of the Orthodox churches. For example, Medieval depictions of the Annunciation show Gabriel the Archangel handing a white lily to the Virgin Mary. Additionally, the white lily is the attribute of other virginal and chaste saints, such as Saint Joseph,[14] Saint Anthony of Padua and Saint Maria Goretti.

The French adopted the symbol of the fleur de lis, which can be described as a stylized Madonna lily,[15][16] however the shape of this symbol more accurately resembles that of a flag iris or Iris florentina.[17][18]

Before 1999, the Madonna lily was the provincial flower of Quebec, probably as a reference to the fleurs-de-lis on the flag of Quebec. However, this was criticized as the plant is not native to Quebec, and in 1999 it was replaced by the blue flag iris, which is native to the province.[19]

Culinary uses edit

In Taiwan, both the flower and bulbs are used as food, as are the other related species: L. brownii var. viridulum, L. lancifolium and L. pumilum.[20]

Toxicity in pets edit

Seed pods and seeds - MHNT

Cats are extremely sensitive to the toxicity of the plant and ingestion is often fatal.[21][22][23] Households and gardens which are visited by cats are strongly advised against keeping this plant or placing dried flowers where a cat may brush against them and become dusted with pollen which they then consume while cleaning. Suspected cases require urgent veterinary attention.[24] Rapid treatment with activated charcoal, and/or induced vomiting, can reduce the amount of toxin absorbed. Treatment is time-sensitive, so in some cases vets may advise doing it at home. A vet will give the cat large amounts of fluid by IV, which can reduce the damage to the kidneys, and thus increase the chances of survival.[24]

Gallery edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families".
  2. ^ BSBI List 2007 (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  3. ^ USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Lilium candidum". The PLANTS Database ( Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  4. ^ "Lilium candidum". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 1 June 2022.
  5. ^ Altervista Flora Italiana, Giglio bianco di S. Antonio, Madonna lily, Lilium candidum L.
  6. ^ Peter Haggett (Editor) Encyclopedia of World Geography, Volume 15:The Middle East , p. 2089, at Google Books
  7. ^ Tutin, T.G. & al. (eds.) (1980). Flora Europaea 5: 1-452. Cambridge University Press.
  8. ^ Davis, P.H. (ed.) (1984). Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands, 8: 1-632. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.
  9. ^ Danin, A. (2004). Distribution Atlas of Plants in the Flora Palaestina Area, 1-517. The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Jerusalem.
  10. ^ Ikinci, N., Oberprieler, C. & Güner, A. (2006). On the Origin of European Lilies: Phylogenetic Analysis of Lilium Section Liriotypus (Liliaceae) Using Sequences of the Nuclear Ribosomal Transcribed Spacers. Willdenowia 36: 647-565.
  11. ^ Dimpoulos, P., Raus, T., Bergmeier, E., Constantinidis, T., Iatrou, G., Kokkini, S., Strid, A., & Tzanoudakis, D. (2013). Vascular Plants of Greece: An Annotated Checklist, 1-372. Botanic Gardens and Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem, Berlin and Hellenic Botanical Society, Athens.
  12. ^ 1 Kings, 7:19.
  13. ^ 1 Kings, 7:26.
  14. ^ Kostka, Arun Oswin. "Flowers in Christian Symbolism".
  15. ^ Fongemie, Pauly. "Mary's Symbols". Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  16. ^ Hans Kurath Middle English Dictionary (1973), p. 1051, at Google Books
  17. ^ Stefan Buczacki The Herb Bible: The definitive guide to choosing and growing herbs, p. 223, at Google Books
  18. ^ McVicar, Jekka (2006) [1997]. Jekka's Complete Herb Book (Revised ed.). Bookmark Ltd. ISBN 978-1845093709.
  19. ^ "Harlequin blue flag (Iris versicolor), our floral emblem". Espace pour la Vie Montréal. Retrieved 3 May 2022.
  20. ^ "可供食品使用原料彙整一覽表". Archived from the original on 2014-01-26. Retrieved 2014-01-25.
  21. ^ Frequently Asked Questions No Lilies For Cats.
  22. ^ Fitzgerald, KT (2010). "Lily toxicity in the cat". Top Companion Anim Med. 25 (4): 213–7. doi:10.1053/j.tcam.2010.09.006. PMID 21147474.
  23. ^ The trouble with lilies: fabulous but fickle, The Telegraph.
  24. ^ a b Lily Poisoning in Cats. Pet MD.

External links edit