by Steven Case, 2007; Kelly Agan, 2016
NC Government & Heritage Library.
In 2003, the General Assembly designated the Carolina Lily (Lilium michauxii) as the official State wildflower (Session Laws, 2003, c. 426).
Named for Andre Michaux, a noted eighteenth century naturalist and explorer, this flower grows throughout the state, from the forests and hills of Cherokee County to the coastal swamplands (pocosins) of Hyde and Pamlico Counties. Michaux made a number of trips to North America, comissioned by the French government to study the continent's trees. Beginning in 1787, he made five trips to North Carolina from a base at Charleston, South Carolina. He made a number of important discoveries in the region.
The stem can grow up to 4 feet high, and can have up to 6 flowers at the summit, though 1-3 are more common. The petals are brilliant red-orange with brown spots, and arched back so that the tips overlap.
The Carolina Lily grows throughout the southeast, from West Virginia to Florida, and can bloom as late as October, though it is most prevalent in July and August.
Here is the language specified in the legislation establishing the Carolina Lilly as the State Wildflower:
"Whereas, North Carolina is blessed with an abundance of wildflowers from the mountains to the coast; and
Whereas, the Carolina Lily is a scarce and beautiful flower that is found throughout North Carolina in upland pine-oak woods and pocosins; and
Whereas, the Carolina Lily (Lilium michauxii) is one of many plants named for the distinguished French botanist Andre Michaux who traveled widely in the southeastern United States; and
Whereas, Andre Michaux (1747-1802), a genuine hero of science and exploration, referred to the North Carolina mountains as "the great botanical laboratory and paradise of North America"; and
Whereas, the Carolina Lily, sometimes referred to as Michaux's Lily, bears up to six reddish-yellow, spotted flowers with petals that bend backwards; and
Whereas, each nodding flower grows to about three inches in diameter; and
Whereas, this magnificent flower bears the name of our great State; and
Whereas, the State of North Carolina does not have an official wildflower;"
References and additional resources:
Sutherland, Zen. 2008. "Carolina Lily - Lilium michauxii." Online at https://www.flickr.com/photos/zen/2780380397/.
1 June 2007 | Agan, Kelly; Case, Steven