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Lilium candidum

Lilium candidum

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Monocots
Ordo: Liliales

Familia: Liliaceae
Subfamilia: Lilioideae
Genus: Lilium
Sectio: L. sect. Liriotypus
Species: Lilium candidum

Lilium candidum L., 1753

Type species:


Lilium peregrinum Mill., Gard. Dict. ed. 8: n.º 2 (1768)
Lilium candidum var. cernuum Weston, Bot. Univ. 3: 454 (1772)
Lilium candidum var. plenum Weston, Bot. Univ. 3: 454 (1772)
Lilium candidum var. purpureum Weston, Bot. Univ. 3: 454 (1772)
Lilium album Houtt., Nat. Hist. 2(12): 228 (1780)
Lilium candidum var. peregrinum (Mill.) Pers., Syn. Pl. 1: 358 (1805)
Lilium candidum var. variegatum Loudon, Hort. Brit.: 129 (1830)
Lilium candidum var. monstruosum H.Vilm., Fl. Pleine Terre: 457 (1863)
Lilium candidum var. rubrolineatum H.Vilm., Fl. Pleine Terre: 456 (1863)
Lilium candidum subsp. peregrinum (Mill.) [[John Gilbert Baker|Baker]], J. Roy. Hort. Soc. 4: 41 (1873)
Lilium candidum var. aureomarginatum Elwes, Monogr. Lilium: t. 9 (1877)
Lilium candidum var. striatum Baker, J. Roy. Hort. Soc., n.s., 4: 41 (1877)
Lilium striatum Baker, J. Roy. Hort. Soc., n.s., 4: 41 (1877), pro syn.
Lilium candidum f. peregrinum (Mill.) Voss, Vilm. Blumengärtn. ed. 3, 1: 1091 (1895)
Lilium candidum f. striatum (Baker) Voss, Vilm. Blumengärtn. ed. 3, 1: 1091 (1895)
Lilium candidum var. purpureostriatum Souillet, Gard. Chron., III, 95: 230 (1934)
Lilium candidum var. salonikae Stoker, Lily Year-Book 4: 10 (1935)

Native distribution areas:

Continental: Europe
Regional: Southeastern Europe
East Aegean Is., Greece, Yugoslavia
Continental: Asia-Temperate
Regional: Western Asia
Lebanon-Syria, Palestine, Turkey
Extinct in:
Introduced into:
Albania, Algeria, Bulgaria, Canary Is., Corse, Czechoslovakia, East European Russia, France, Italy, Madeira, Mexico Central, Mexico Southwest, Pennsylvania, Portugal, Sardegna, Sicilia, Spain, Transcaucasus, Tunisia, Ukraine

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition
Primary references

Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species Plantarum. Tomus I: 302. Reference page. :

Additional references

Dobignard, A. & Chatelain, C. 2010. Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du Nord. Volume 1: Pteridophyta, Gymnospermae, Monocotyledoneae. Conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève, ISBN 978-2-8277-0120-9, 455 pp. PDF Reference page.


Govaerts, R. et al. 2013. Lilium candidum in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published online. Accessed: 2013 May 9. Reference page. 2013. Lilium candidum in The Orders and Families of Monocotyledons. Published online. Accessed: 2013 May 9. 2013. Lilium candidum. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published online. Accessed: 9 May 2013.
International Plant Names Index. 2013. Lilium candidum. Published online. Accessed: 9. May 2013.

Vernacular names
العربية: زنبق أبيض
azərbaycanca: Ağ zanbaq
català: Lliri blanc
čeština: lilie bílá
Deutsch: Madonnen-Lilie
Ελληνικά: Παρθενικός Κρίνος
English: Madonna Lily
español: Azucena blanca
suomi: Madonnanlilja
עברית: שושן צחור
hornjoserbsce: Běła lilija
magyar: fehér liliom
kurdî: Zembeq
lietuvių: Baltoji lelija
Nāhuatl: Caxtillān omixōchitl
polski: lilia biała
русский: Лилия белоснежная
sardu: Lizu
slovenčina: ľalija biela
svenska: Madonnalilja
Türkçe: Ak zambak
українська: Лілія біла
中文: 聖母百合

Lilium candidum, the Madonna lily[2][3] or white lily,[4] is a plant in the true lily family. It is native to the Balkans and Middle East, and naturalized in other parts of Europe, including France, Italy, and Ukraine, and in North Africa, the Canary Islands, Mexico, and other regions.[1][5] It has been cultivated since antiquity, for at least 3,000 years,[6] and has great symbolic value since then for many cultures. It is susceptible to several virus diseases common to lilies, and especially to Botrytis fungus. One technique to avoid problems with viruses is to grow plants from seed instead of bulblets.


It forms bulbs at ground level, and, unlike other lilies, grows a basal rosette of leaves during winter, which die the following summer. A leafy floral stem, which generally grows 1.2 metres (3 ft 11 in) tall, but exceptionally 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) tall, emerges in late spring and bears several sweetly and very fragrant flowers in summer. The flowers are pure white and tinted yellow in their throats.[7][8][9][10][11]
In culture
Madonna and child with Saints Anthony of Padua and Nicholas of Tolentino. Both saints are holding white lilies to symbolise their chaste life.

Madonna lilies are depicted in the fresco titled Prince of the Lilies in the ruins of the ancient Minoan palace of Knossos.

Some translations of the Bible identify the Hebrew word Shoshannah as "lily" in the Song of Songs: "As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters." (Song of Songs, 2:2 (KJV)) Customarily it is translated as "rose". For example, Abraham ibn Ezra described it as a white flower, which has a good fragrance, and has a six petaled flower and six stamens. But its identity is uncertain, because it typically grows in montane places and not in valleys as the phrase "the lily of the valleys" would have it.[clarification needed]

The Bible describes King Solomon's Temple as adorned with designs of Madonna lilies on the columns,[12] and on the brazen Sea (Laver).[13]

The white lily symbolizes chastity in the iconography of the Catholic Church and some of the Orthodox churches. For example, Medieval depictions of the Annunciation show Gabriel the Archangel handing a white lily to the Virgin Mary. Additionally, the white lily is the attribute of other virginal and chaste saints, such as Saint Joseph,[14] Saint Anthony of Padua and Saint Maria Goretti.

The French adopted the symbol of the fleur de lis, which is can be described as a stylized Madonna lily,[15][16] however the shape of this symbol more accurately resembles that of a flag iris or Iris florentina.[17][18] The lily appears on ancient coins from Yehud Medinata, as well as on medieval banners from Syria in the time of Saladin. The first time it appears in a Western context is in a stone carving decorating the refectory of the Hospitaller compound at Akko, possibly indicating the link to its adoption by the House of Valois-Anjou.

Before 1999, the Madonna lily was the provincial flower of Quebec, probably as a reference to the fleurs-de-lis on the flag of Quebec. However, this was criticized as the plant is not native to Quebec, and in 1999 it was replaced by the blue flag iris, which is native to the province.[19]
Culinary uses

In Taiwan, both the flower and bulbs are used as food, as are the other related species: L. brownii var. viridulum, L. lancifolium and L. pumilum.[20]
Toxicity in pets
Seed pods and seeds - MHNT

Cats are extremely sensitive to the toxicity of the plant and ingestion is often fatal.[21][22][23] Households and gardens which are visited by cats are strongly advised against keeping this plant or placing dried flowers where a cat may brush against them and become dusted with pollen which they then consume while cleaning. Suspected cases require urgent veterinary attention.[24] Rapid treatment with activated charcoal, and/or induced vomiting, can reduce the amount of toxin absorbed. Treatment is time-sensitive, so in some cases vets may advise doing it at home. A vet will give the cat large amounts of fluid by IV, which can reduce the damage to the kidneys, and thus increase the chances of survival.[24]


"Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families".
BSBI List 2007 (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Lilium candidum". The PLANTS Database ( Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
"Lilium candidum". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 1 June 2022.
Altervista Flora Italiana, Giglio bianco di S. Antonio, Madonna lily, Lilium candidum L.
Peter Haggett (Editor) Encyclopedia of World Geography, Volume 15:The Middle East , p. 2089, at Google Books
Tutin, T.G. & al. (eds.) (1980). Flora Europaea 5: 1-452. Cambridge University Press.
Davis, P.H. (ed.) (1984). Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands, 8: 1-632. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.
Danin, A. (2004). Distribution Atlas of Plants in the Flora Palaestina Area, 1-517. The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Jerusalem.
Ikinci, N., Oberprieler, C. & Güner, A. (2006). On the Origin of European Lilies: Phylogenetic Analysis of Lilium Section Liriotypus (Liliaceae) Using Sequences of the Nuclear Ribosomal Transcribed Spacers. Willdenowia 36: 647-565.
Dimpoulos, P., Raus, T., Bergmeier, E., Constantinidis, T., Iatrou, G., Kokkini, S., Strid, A., & Tzanoudakis, D. (2013). Vascular Plants of Greece: An Annotated Checklist, 1-372. Botanic Gardens and Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem, Berlin and Hellenic Botanical Society, Athens.
1 Kings, 7:19.
1 Kings, 7:26.
Kostka, Arun Oswin. "Flowers in Christian Symbolism".
Fongemie, Pauly. "Mary's Symbols". Retrieved 6 April 2018.
Hans Kurath Middle English Dictionary (1973), p. 1051, at Google Books
Stefan Buczacki The Herb Bible: The definitive guide to choosing and growing herbs, p. 223, at Google Books
McVicar, Jekka (2006) [1997]. Jekka's Complete Herb Book (Revised ed.). Bookmark Ltd. ISBN 978-1845093709.
"Harlequin blue flag (Iris versicolor), our floral emblem". Espace pour la Vie Montréal. Retrieved 3 May 2022.
"可供食品使用原料彙整一覽表". Archived from the original on 2014-01-26. Retrieved 2014-01-25.
Frequently Asked Questions No Lilies For Cats.
Fitzgerald, KT (2010). "Lily toxicity in the cat". Top Companion Anim Med. 25 (4): 213–7. doi:10.1053/j.tcam.2010.09.006. PMID 21147474.
The trouble with lilies: fabulous but fickle, The Telegraph.
Lily Poisoning in Cats. Pet MD.

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