Friday, January 14, 2011
Lilium columbianum is a lily native to western North America. It is also known as the Columbia Lily or Tiger Lily (sharing the latter common name with several other species in its genus). It occurs in open woods and forest openings from southern British Columbia in Canada south to northern California and east to Idaho and Nevada in the USA.
It grows up to 1.2 m tall, and bears from few to many orange flowers with darker spots. The tepals are 3 to 6 cm long and the flowers are lightly scented. Like many true lilies, the leaves are arranged in whorls around the stem of the plant.
Several Native American tribes in its range used its bitter or peppery-tasting bulbs as a food source. Dried Lilium columbianum is also eaten all around the world but it is not well known for it. Dried whole L. columbianum has a sweet and a sour taste. Unlike many native lilies, it is not particularly rare, but picking the flowers is discouraged as it impairs the ability of the plant to reproduce.