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Lilium grayi S. Watson. Gray's Lily, Roan Lily. Phen: Jun-Jul; Aug-Sep. Hab: Bogs, seepages, grassy balds, moist forests, and wet meadows, at medium to high elevations. Dist: A Southern Appalachian endemic: sw. VA, nw. NC, and ne. TN.

Origin/Endemic status: Endemic

Taxonomy Comments: Clearly related to L. canadense (especially through the somewhat intermediate L. canadense var. editorum), L. grayi appears to be adapted for pollination by Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Adams & Dress 1982). See L. canadense var. editorum for additional comments. In addition to the characters in the key, L. grayi can be distinguished in sterile condition from the two more common species of the Mountains by leaves, which are widest near the midpoint, averaging 4-6× as long as wide (vs. distinctly wider toward the apex in L. michauxii, and widest near or below the midpoint but typically > (6-) 8× or more as long as wide in L. superbum); seedlings may not show typical morphology. Additionally, L. grayi has spicule-roughened midveins and leaf margins, while those of L. superbum are smooth or nearly so.

Other Comments: The two most important strongholds for this rare lily (each with thousands of individuals) are the Roan Mountain massif (Avery and Mitchell counties, NC and Carter County, TN), where it was first found, and Long Hope Valley (Watauga and Ashe counties, NC). Otherwise, it tends to occur in very small, isolated populations in bogs, seeps and wet pastures (likely former bogs). Ingram, Donaldson, & Levy (2018) summarize information about a fungal foliar disease seriously impacting Lilium grayi. Certainly one of our most beautiful wild plants!

Synonymy: = C, F, FNA26, G, K1, K3, K4, RAB, S, S13, Tn, Va, W, Adams & Dress (1982), Wherry (1946)

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Wetland Indicator Status:

  • Eastern Mountains and Piedmont: FACU

Heliophily: 7

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image of plant© Will Stuart | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Alan Cressler: Lilium grayi, Jane Bald, Roan Highlands, Pisgah National Forest, Avery County, North Carolina 5 by Alan Cressler source | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Alan Cressler: Lilium grayi, Jane Bald, Cherokee National Forest, Carter County, Tennessee 4 by Alan Cressler source | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Alan Cressler: Lilium grayi, Jane Bald, Cherokee National Forest, Carter County, Tennessee 3 by Alan Cressler source | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Keith Bradley | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Gary P. Fleming | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Gary P. Fleming | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Will Stuart | Original Image ⭷

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