Lovely leopard lily: Photo of the day

Confession: I can’t easily tell the difference between a leopard lily and a tiger lily. George grows both, but they seem to bloom at different times of the year, so I can’t easily compare them side-by-side. To be fair, even he-who-grew-it (George) took a moment to figure out which one this was.

Leopard lily

Verdict: it’s a leopard lily. To be precise, a Lilium pardalinum (California Tiger Lily). Leopard lilies are California natives, whereas most Tiger lilies are Asiatic in origin. Does it matter which this one is? Probably not – I love all of them. So this photo, which I took a couple of years ago, is my favorite photo of the day. Enjoy!

You can see my other flower and nature photographs on my website.

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Tale of Two Lilies

What’s blooming in your garden this week? It’s a lily extravaganza in ours. Just opened: this stargazer lily.  Stargazers, along with their stunning beauty and impressive size, also smell heavenly.

Stargazer lily

And just feet away in the garden, the glowing orange and brown-freckled Tiger lily (Lilium tigrinum), smaller than the Stargazer but just as gorgeous, opened this morning. George grew this one from a bulb.

Humboldt's lily

 

Pitkin Marsh Lily

George grew this magnificent lily from seed that he got at the seed bank at the Tilden Park Botanic Garden in Berkeley. The flower bloomed today. A couple of days ago it was curled up tight:

The Pitkin Marsh lily, or Lilium pardalinum subsp. pitkinense, is an endangered perennial in the Liliaceae family. George tells me that there is a dispute about what family to put it into, that some think it should be with the leopard lilies. The individual flowers are relatively small, but the entire plant is tall, and filled with blooms and flowers.

According to Wikipedia, the habitat has been greatly reduced mostly due to cattle overgrazing, and partly because of collectors seeking it for its rarity and beauty.

The Tilden Botanic Garden sells plants and seeds at the Garden’s Visitor Center on Sundays and Mondays from 8:30 a.m to 5 p.m., at the Garden’s fall lectures, annual spring plant sale, and often at plant sales and fairs of the East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society.

New Year Muir Woods Brownie Walk

Muir Woods was bustling on New Year’s Eve day. Many family groups from all over the world were there to appreciate the beautiful National Park, the redwoods, the clear cold weather — in many different languages we heard variations of what we’re sure must have been, “wow, look at that tall tree!”  (French, Russian, Spanish, Hebrew, Indian dialects…).   Aside from the human visitors, this is the first critter we encountered, a soaring crow that was criss-crossing the parking lot:

As the crow flies

As the crow flies

As we waited to get into the Woods, I asked the guide whether there had been any brownie spottings.  A look of panic crossed his face, and I’m sure he thought I was some crazy lady who believed in fairies and wee folk, but his fellow guide assured us that yes, the brownie flowers, aka slink pods, scoliopus and fetid adders-tongue (more about that last name soon) were definitely blooming.  Last year, on our search for brownies at Muir Woods, we followed the normal trail to the left, and, unlike the normal sightseers who walked along looking up in awe at the towering redwood trees, we had our eyes trained on the ground, looking for the very small flowers.  It was a nice walk, but we were not rewarded with any sightings of the flower until we were three quarters of the way around the trail.  This time we bucked the flow and walked up the right side of the trail.  The first interesting thing we saw was not a flower, but was a banana slug —

Banana slug

Banana slug

We also saw some fun fungi–

Mushrooms on moss-covered tree trunk

Mushrooms on moss-covered tree trunk

And, happily, in the same location we sighted them last year, we were excited to see that the brownies were, indeed, there!  The first viewing (I was in front so I saw it first, and as is our tradition, got a kiss for my efforts) was this:

Slink pod foliage

Slink pod foliage

The brown-spotted leaves were the giveaway.  Sadly, the flowers had already bloomed and wilted, see the spikes hanging down the front?  For perspective, these leaves were about 3 to 4 inches.  We forged on, determined to see whether there were any flowers still blooming.  We were in luck!  We found a nice scattered grove of blooming flowers.  This one had three flowers blooming at once:

Slink pod flowers

Slink pod flowers

Here’s a closeup side view of a single flower:

Slink pod flower

Slink pod flower

I like the nickname brownies, but if you want to show off, you can also use the Latin: scoliopus bigelovii.  The name means “crooked foot”, because the flower stalk curves over after the flower is pollinated and grows too heavy for the slender stalk.   They’re also called Fetid Adder’s Tongue, and yes – that does refer to the scent, which is slight but unpleasant.  Scoliopus is part of the lily family (Liliaceae) and it is a perennial.  The flowers are quite small, at most about an inch, and the entire plant ranges from 3 to 6 inches tall.  This is a closeup shot down inside the foliage, with two small flower buds before they bloom:

Another closer shot where the foliage has uncurled and the bud is larger:

More closeups of the flowers.  I love the distinctive stripes:

That’s the end of our Muir Woods New Year’s Eve walk.  Oh wait – two more – George and me with our new friends.  Happy New Year everyone!!

Heidi and friends

Heidi and friends

George and friends

George and friends