The big blue truck idles it’s way up the gravel road as my eyes search the dappled light for inspiration. Then I saw the bright orange color which at first I mistook for more Orange Lily growing on the edge of the forest. But something was wrong. These orange lilies didn’t look quite right. These bell shaped flowers seem to bow their heads in prayer. The orange lily is a proud invader that always holds its head high. But this source of humble beauty was a native species. This was a Canada Lily.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how Orange Lily was a hardy and beautiful plant but doesn’t really do much for wildlife when it escapes the garden. In fact it’s considered an invasive species that squeezes out the native plants. And what’s even worse Orange Lily has no food value for wildlife. There’s not even nectar for butterflies and bees in the Asian Orange Lily. But with the Canada Lily it’s a completely different story.
The gracefully nodding bloom opens to welcome Swallowtail Butterflies and solitary bees. The deer will not touch Orange Lily but they browse so much on Canada Lily that in some states it’s considered a threatened species.
In my previous article on Orang Lily I was amiss to omit Canada Lily. Perhaps one reason why I didn’t think of it was it’s preference for shade and moist soil. Orange Lily does well in full sun and I think that’s why people tend to gravitate towards Orange Lily. Neither can I recommend propagation of wild Canada Lily because in areas where it’s threatened it might be illegal to remove it. However, I did see that several online sources offer either seeds or bulbs. For most of the lilies planting a bulb is probably going to be the easiest method. Because the bulbs are eaten by mice and voles you may need to provide protection for them.
So, if you like the looks of the Orange Lily but want to support the preservation of native species look into Canada Lily. If your land will support it you’ll also be attracting wildlife as well as providing yourself with beautiful flowers.
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