PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

NW Native Tiger Lily (Lilium columbianum)

This is a rare and wonderful treat to find when hiking in the PNW. 2-4 foot tall stems sprout striking bright orange lilies with distinctive recurved petals and maroon spots in the throat. Found in open meadows, at the edges of woodlands near roadsides, and on mountain slopes in late spring through summer. They are also very happy in a dry, less tended part of your garden.

The original people of the Pacific Northwest ate the bulbs, roasted like Camas. Like other lilies, the bulbs divide and multiply each year so it is possible to establish a patch for a few years and have enough to harvest and enough to leave in the ground to remain sustainable. When roasted, the bulb has a creamy texture and is distinctly sweet with a slightly tangy/bitter tinge afterwards. It’s a good carbohydrate with essential minerals.

The bloom time can be widely variable from May to August. A low mound of strappy foliage give rise to stems 2-4 feet tall, each topped by a candelabra of several brilliant orange flowers whose petals are swept backwards like they’re facing a gale. The reproductive bits, the stamen (the sticky-outy bits with pollen) and the pistil (the sticky-outy bit with an ovary) are thrust prominently forward, looking none-too-shyly to get their business done. Hiking and walking throughout the PNW, you never know when you might stumble upon them and they are a spectacular treat when you do.