Thursday, July 23, 2009

Panhandle lily - Lilium iridollae

The panhandle lily, or pot-of-gold lily, (Lilium iridollae) is easily one of my favorite native Florida wildflowers and one our greatest treasures at Hawthorn Hill. This species is naturally found within the Florida panhandle from Walton County west to Baldwin County Alabama; a geographic range of 7 total counties worldwide. It is not common anywhere within this narrow range and is listed as a State Endangered species in Florida, critically imperilled in Alabama, and is under review for listing nationally by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The panhandle lily is found in seasonally wet areas; low flatwoods, seepage bogs, and wet prairies. These habitats are similar to those where pitcher plants (Sarracenia spp.) are commonly associated. In these areas, they get good moisture and at least a half day of sun. Don't try to grow them in too much shade or they will get lanky and fall over. If you give them a lot of sun, however, you best make sure that they get ample moisture.

Like all of Florida's true lilies, the panhandle lily is deciduous and dies back to its bulb in late fall. By early spring, new leaves appear and they form a basal rosette quickly. This begins to elongate in late spring and flowering occurs by mid- to late-July. Native lilies often fail to flower, however, and may spend years emerging each spring as a basal rosette of leaves if conditions are not quite to their liking. Young plants also are slow to mature and may take more than 2 years from seed to flower - even under ideal conditions.

The flower stalk may reach as tall as 6 feet, but is often a foot or two shorter. Individual flower stalks produce only one solitary flower that ends up hanging downward from the stem. The flowers are spectacular. Each is 3-4 inches across and ranges from a pale yellow to a rich orange in color. The petals recurved and touch each other over the back of the stem; forming a sort-of basketlike appearance. The petals are also heavily spotted and the stamens hang downward like spider legs.

Like other native lilies, the panhandle lily is pollinated mostly by large swallowtail butterflies. If pollination occurs, a large seed capsule eventually ripens that may contain many hundreds of seeds. Getting these to grow, however, is quite the feat.

Here at Hawthorn Hill, we hope to eventually get our panhandle lilies to produce seed and seedlings. To date, we have not been very successful with the latter. Until that time, we will simply admire our plants and look forward to each blooming season.


  1. Hi, I was curious about your policy on your photo use. I am an artist, and I would love to use some of your shots--I live in Florida and mostly paint Florida birds and flowers.

  2. Mistie-
    I have no problem with you doing a painting based on one of my photos. I do not allow use of my original photos, however, without prior permission. Thanks for asking and for reading my blog.

  3. Any chance of obtaining three fresh leaves of L. iridollae? We're sequencing the chloroplast genome of a number of species and would like to include this one.


    Thomas J Givnish
    Henry Allan Gleason Professor of Botany
    University of Wisconsin-Madison
    Madison, WI 53706

  4. I have a pod from a panhandle Lily. What’s the best way to attempt to get the seeds to grow. I have them all over my property in Milton Fl.

    1. I have not been as good as I wish with native lily seed getting the seedlings to prosper to a size I can transplant. I have not had to do much to get germination, however, except to sow the seed just below the surface in a flat of good potting soil. I'm told that the seedlings should not be grown in full sun. My best - that said and if you are interested, I could send your seed to my native nursery friend who has had much better success than me at this and I could then send the small plants back to you - happy to cover the costs if I could keep a couple of seedlings for my own work here. Would also be happy to pay you for a ripe capsule when they ripen on your plants should you have one on your property to share. I am now the Director of the USF Botanical Gardens in Tampa and I'd love to be able to add this species to our collections.

  5. Brandileebates@gmail.comDecember 9, 2023 at 9:23 AM

    I have a few pods with seeds from the lilies on my property (on Blackwater River in Milton). Happy to send to you to keep as many as you like if I could get a few seedlings from them.

    1. Would be thrilled to trade! Hope to add this to the USF Botanical Gardens landscape that I now manage. 1648 Paragon Place, Holiday, FL 34690. Thanks


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