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.
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!
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.