Name: Lilium candidum
was the most significant flower symbol for Christians and suggested purity. As
a symbol of purity associated with virgins it became known as the Madonna Lily.
Origin: One of the first descriptions of the lily
dates from the Chinese Middle Ages "the plant flowers until late autumn and
there are three types, red, yellow and purple".
Some forms (Lilium longiflorum, L. candidum, oriental lilies) are highly
perfumed but white only; others (asiatic lilies) are highly coloured but scent-free
Availability: All year.
Tips: Remove the pollen stamens by pinching them together and pulling them
up out of the flower. This prolongs the flower's life as well. Use sellotape to
remove pollen, not water which will fix the stain.
Facts: Lilies have been cultivated for over 3000
years. Feng Shui believers hold the lily as an emblem of summer and abundance;
to the Chinese, lily means "Forever in love". The lily was the holy
flower of the ancient Assyrians. Until the 16th century the Madonna lily was the
only garden variety known, because of this the "lilies of the field"
as mentioned in the bible are thought to be this specific lily. A lily has adorned
the coat of arms of the kings of France since 1179. King Chlodwig I allegedly
received this 'fleur de lys', as it is called in heraldic language, from an angel.
But in actual fact his flower wasn't a lily, as the name implies, but an iris.
Via Louis XI the motif made its way to the coat of arms of the Medici family,
and from there on to the arms of Florence and Tuscany. Interestingly, only the
Florentine 'fleur de lys' has stamens like a lily.
In Greek poetry, the lily stood for tenderness. It was also referred to as the
voice of cicadas or of the muses. There is a Greek myth that tells us how the
lily was born from the milk of the goddess Hera. The lily still symbolises pure,
virginal love in the Christian world.
the past, various flowers were used to prepare remedies in popular medicine. In
China some served as lucky charms, while others were thought to be capable of
averting the evil eye. In another historical account we read that people were
interested in lilies for their anti-toxic powers and their capacity of curing
depressions. In Europe, too, lilies were used as a remedy against a wide range
of diseases and ailments right up to the beginning of the last century
Be aware that lilies can be highly poisonous to cats. Owners should be aware
of this risk and keep their pets away from them.