Sunday, July 9, 2017

Behold the lilies of the field!

Did you know that Sidney Poitier once starred in a charming movie titled Lilies of the Field? I can recall that more readily than I do the fact that Minnesota does have native lilies. It just hasn't stuck, so I was pleasantly surprised yesterday when the Son-In-Law informed me we have one (a native Minnesota lily of the field) growing along our road ditch. There are two non-native lilies and two indigenous to our Minnesota (not counting Spring ephemerals), according to the folks at Minnesota Wildflowers. They are:

the Wood Lily growing on the back bank of our road ditch
the Wood Lily growing on the back bank of our road ditch
Photo by J. Harrington

Based on my drives over the years, the non-native Day Lily is more frequently to be seen, although none of the four species listed can be found on Minnesota Department of Natural Resources "educational list of plants that can be invasive in natural areas," nor could I find a lily listed in the MNDNR referenced Wisconsin DNR's A field guide to terrestrial invasive plants in Wisconsin.

The Minnesota Seasons web site seems to have a more inclusive listing of lilies found in Minnesota than is readily found on the Minnesota Wildflowers site. An overview of the difference between daylilies and true lilies can be found here. According to this source, day lilies may serve as a nectar source for pollinators and, sometimes, a food source for humans. If only the information about lilies weren't as fragmented and scattered as the lily cultivars in Minnesota, even before we consider water lilies. It would also, I believe, be a major improvement if everyone used the same listing and assessment of which plants should be eradicated, and did so for the best of reasons.

The Noble Nature

Ben Jonson, 1572 - 1637

     It is not growing like a tree 
     In bulk, doth make man better be; 
Or standing long an oak, three hundred year, 
To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere: 
          A lily of a day         
          Is fairer far in May, 
     Although it fall and die that night— 
     It was the plant and flower of Light. 
In small proportions we just beauties see; 
And in short measures life may perfect be.

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