COLUMBIA LILY, COLUMBIAN LILY, OREGON LILY
syn. L. canadense var. parviflorum
Pronounced: LIL-ee-um kol-um-bee-AH-num
British Columbia, California, Idaho, Oregon, Washington.
Sunset zones: 2-7, 14-19.
USDA zones: 5-9.
Height: 5-6 feet (1.5-1.8 m).
July and August.
Golden orange, recurved petals with spots in center.
Full sun to partial shade.
Moist but well-drained neutral to acidic soil.
Sow seed as soon as ripe.
Plant scales, offset or bulbils from stem when plant is dormant.
Rainy Side Notes
Our native lily is found in a variety of habitats—as far north as southern British Columbia and south to northern California. From alpine heights to sea level, Columbia lily grows in forests, thickets and meadows. It's a fine addition for most well-drained soil in the maritime Northwest. In addition, this plant is an excellent choice for a garden that receives little or no irrigation, as it is perfectly adapted to our summer drought.
Indigenous people used the bulb as a starchy food source. Roasted, boiled, mixed with salmon roe or dried into cakes, the lily scales added slightly sweet starch with a hint of pepper taste to the palate.
Good drainage and leaf mold, as a top dressing, gives the best growing conditions. During our drought period, use minimum irrigation over the dormant bulbs to prevent them from rotting. Small bulbs are best for planting; older, larger bulbs do not transplant well. Digging them up in the wild, is not a good idea and most likely the plants will not survive the transition. Let foliage ripen before removing stems.
Photographed in Suzette Birrell's garden.