Turk's-cap Lily

Lilium superbum. You may have a hard time finding a Turk wearing a hat that looks like the Turk’s-cap Lily, but if you happen by a produce stand in the early autumn, look for Turk’s Cap squash - it bears a remarkeable resemblance to this late-spring wildflower. The common name is colorful, but the botanical name is more apt and easily understood: Lilium superbum. It means a lily that’s “noble,” “excellent,” “proud,” or even “lofty.” All descriptions apply to this giant among native lilies - it can reach 10 feet in height and bear as many as 40 large, dangling flowers that may range from yellow through orange to red. Though somewhat different in design to the related Canada Lily, the Turk’s-cap attracts many of the same pollinators: Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, large butterflies, and moths - especially the hawk moths known as Hummingbird Moths. And like other large lilies, its starchy bulbs have been used in making soup. Turk’s-cap Lily seems most common in the Mid-Atlantic states, though it can be found out to and just beyond the middle Mississippi River region and into Florida. And as winters get warmer, it may spread into northern New England - if it can survive the deer, which love not the beauty but the flavor of this flower. Often confused with the common Tiger Lily, an imported garden escape, it is sometimes called the American Tiger Lily.

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