Michigan lily

(Lilium michiganense)

Conservation Status
Michigan lily
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACW - Facultative wetland


FACW - Facultative wetland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACW - Facultative wetland


Michigan lily is an erect, hairless, unbranched perennial rising from a yellowish, unbranched bulb and underground horizontal stem (rhizome).

The stem is hairless, round, and unbranched below the inflorescence.

The leaves appear in whorls of 3 to 7 along the stem. There may also be leaves on the upper stem appearing singly, in pairs, or in partial whorls. The leaves are 1¾ to 5 long, ¼ to 1 wide, narrowly lance-shaped, and taper to both ends. The tips droop when the sky is overcast, and become horizontal or ascending in the sun. They are stalkless, untoothed, hairless, and have parallel venation. The underside of the leaves are rough to the touch due to minute, pointed projections on the outermost cellular layer along the veins and margins.

The inflorescence is a terminal cluster of 1 to 6 flowers arising from a single point at the top of the stem (umbel). The flowers hang downward at the end of 3 to 5 long flower stems that spread upward. One or more flower stems may also appear from upper leaf axils.

The large flowers are 2½ to 3 wide, Turk’s-cap shaped, and are not fragrant. They consist of 6 tepals, 3 inner tepals (petals) that are similar in appearance but somewhat wider and shorter than the 3 outer tepals (sepals). The tepals spread outward and bend backward to their base. They are reddish-orange with a yellowish-orange throat and purple or maroon spots near the throat. The stamens project well beyond the tepals and curve outward.

The fruit is a 3-celled seed capsule.




3 to 6


Flower Color


Reddish-orange with maroon spots


Similar Species


Orange daylily (Hemerocallis fulva) is shorter, 2 to 4 at maturity. It has a basal rosette of grass-like leaves and no leaves on the flowering stem. The inflorescence consists of a few small, elongated clusters of flowers, not umbels, at the end of each scape branch. The flowers are up to 4 wide, funnel-shaped, tannish-orange with a yellow throat separated by a red stripe. They do not have spots near the throat. They are semi-erect or horizontal—they do not hang downward. They last only one day.

Tiger lily (Lilium lancifolium) has a central stalk that is densely covered with long, tangled, white hairs, especially near the top. It has only alternate leaves. There are 1 to 3 small dark purple bulblets in the axils of the upper leaves. The inflorescence is a terminal, branched, elongated, cluster, not an umbel. The flowers are up to 4 wide and uniformly orange to reddish-orange—they do not have yellow or yellowish throats. They have purple-brown spots except near the tips, not just near the throat.

Wood lily (Lilium philadelphicum var. andinum) is much shorter, 1 to 3 at maturity. The leaves are scattered, more or less alternate, except the uppermost, which are in a whorl. The inflorescence is 1 to 3 flowers. The flowers are bell shaped and erect—they do not hang downward. The tepals are spoon-shaped, clawed, erect, and flaring, and bend backward slightly toward their tips. The tips come to a blunt point. They do not touch near the base. They are bright orange or reddish-orange with a yellow throat and purple spots near the throat.


Moist to wet. Tallgrass prairies, meadows, streambanks, swamps, bogs, bottoms, woodland edges, roadside and railroad ditches. Full or partial sun.



  July to August  

Faunal Associations

  Michigan lily is pollinated primarily by swallow-tail butterflies.  

Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 24, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Liliopsida (monocots)  


Liliales (lilies, supplejacks, and allies)  


Liliaceae (lilies)  
  Subfamily Lilioideae (true liliy)  
  Tribe Lilieae (true lilies and allies)  


Lilium (true lilies)  



Lilium canadense ssp. michiganense

Lilium canadense var. umbelliferum

Lilium michiganense var. umbelliferum

Lilium michiganense var. uniflorum

Lilium superbum


Common Names


American turk’s-cap lily


Michigan lily

swamp lily


turk’s-cap lily













The upper angle where the leaf stalk meets the stem.



A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.



An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.



Refers to both the petals and the sepals of a flower when they are similar in appearance and difficult to tell apart. Tepals are common in lilies and tulips.



A flat-topped or convex umbrella-shaped cluster of flowers or buds arising from more or less a single point.

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Greg Watson

    Michigan lily      
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    Michigan lily   Michigan lily  
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Budding Inflorescence

    Michigan lily   Michigan lily  
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    Michigan lily   Michigan lily  


    Michigan lily   Michigan lily  
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Lilium michiganense TURK'S CAP LILY
Frank Mayfield
  Lilium michiganense TURK'S CAP LILY  



Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  June 21, 2012 Michiganense
Richard Bayerl

Published on Jul 2, 2012

Lilium michiganense in bloom

  Michigan Lilies
Basicbill's Outdoor and Travel Channel

Uploaded on Jun 14, 2011

At the Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve in Elgin, Illinois on July 5, 2009.




Visitor Sightings

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  Greg Watson

Location: along the Root River State Trail near the Houston, MN Trailhead

Michigan lily

  Kathy & Douglas Wood
1994 to present

Location: 3835 Pine Point Road, Sartell MN 56377

We live on 11 acres of 100+ year old white and red pines, balsam fir and mixed deciduous along the Mississippi River. The lilies have been here since before we moved here 25 years ago. Several years ago I transplanted some from our woods to a spot along our garage as the deer were eating them off every year and I feared for their survival. They number several dozen now and should bloom in the next week or two. One of my favorite flowers!

MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings






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