Among the native North American plants catalogued by French botanist André Michaux (1770-1855) is Lilium michauxii, a beautiful lily named in his honor by fellow botanist and explorer Jean Louis Marie Poiret (1755-1834). Commonly known as the Carolina lily, this plant grows primarily in upland pine-oak woods, and can be found from Virginia to Texas, even growing as far south as Florida (near the Georgia border). The lily is the official wildflower of North Carolina.
Growing one to four feet in height, L. michauxii prefers moist, well-drained soil and partial shade with only two hours or so of sun exposure each day.
For several weeks between May and August, the Carolina lily presents a wonderful display of drooping flowers that are characterized by their half dozen reddish-yellow reflexed petals with spots at the base. The whorled obovate leaves of L. michauxii distinguish it from similar species which feature lanceolate leaves.
The anthers of the Carolina lily boast copious amounts of brownish-burgundy pollen, but self-fertilization is impossible due to a flower's ability to reject its own pollen. Pollination is dependent upon insects, particularly bees and bumblebees, which transfer pollen from one flower to another.
James R. Cothran. Gardens and Historic Plants of the Antebellum South (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2003).
Joseph Ewan (ed.). Classica Botanica Americana Volume 3: Flora Boreali-Americana (New York: Hafner Press, 1974).
Jan W. Midgley. All About South Carolina Wildflowers (Raleigh: Sweetwater Press, Inc., 1999).
Richard Dwight Porcher and Douglas Alan Rayner. A Guide to the Wildflowers of South Carolina (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2001).
Margaret Mills Seaborn (ed.). André Michaux's Journeys in Oconee County, South Carolina, in 1787 and 1788 (Walhalla, South Carolina: Oconee County Library, 1976).