The magnificent Oriental Hybrid lilies we all love today, like Stargazer and Casa Blanca, are recent descendants of two wild beauties with romantic names. One is the famous Golden-Rayed Lily, and the other is this one, Lilium speciosum,
commonly called the Rose Red Lily of Japan, or more simply Japan Lily'. The botanical drawing at right shows the basic species, Lilium speciosum
. The photo above is of the now-famous Rubrum variety.
From a gardener who's grown it, 'I adore it': My rubrum planted in late spring 2003 blossomed in September. In 2004, the 2nd year, it surprised me by sending up a second stalk and producing another set of beautiful blossoms, blooming in September again. I can't wait to see what 2005 has in store for me. This is the last lilium to blossom in my gardens. I adore the small, recurved, pink, white and red down-facing, fragrant blossoms.' ......a subscriber at DavesGarden.com, gardening in Springfield, MA
How the Rose Red Lily was sent out to the world. During the 1940's, this wild lily was quite common around the land of a Japanese farmer named Hirotaka Uchida. He noticed that most of the flowers were pinkish or white, like the botanical drawing shown here, with deep red spots and center banding on the tepals (petals). But he also noticed that some were almost pure red, revealing what he recognized as a valuable rare form. Before and during the dark days of World War II, Mr. Uchida collected the reddest ones and continued his work for several years. At the end of the war, the Uchida family was able to export 60 bulbs of the pure red variety which they called 'Lilium speciosum Uchida'. Meanwhile, botanists classified the red form 'Lilium speciosum var rubrum', and the famous 'Rubrum Lily' was born. (The abbreviation, var simply means 'variety' in botanical nomenclature, and 'rubrum' means red.)
So when you see 'Rubrum Lilies' in a florist shop, or 'Uchida Lilies' in a garden center, or 'Lilium speciosum' being sold in a catalog, it's going to be a beauty, but like so many plants today, the naming is regularly confused.
Our bulbs are Lilium speciosum var rubrum, the red version of the wild species, grown and carefully labeled for us in Holland. They're as easy to grow as a Star Gazer, and when they bloom for you, you'll know you have the real thing.