Lilium philadelphicum (Wood Lily)

Plant Info
Also known as: Western Orange-cup Lily, Western Red Lily
Family:Liliaceae (Lily)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; dry woods, meadows, prairies
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 6-petals

[photo of flowers] Typically 1 to 3 flowers at the top of the stem, occasionally up to 5. Flowers are 2½ inches across, have 6 petal-like tepals, deep orange to red, or uncommonly nearly all yellow, yellow at the base and marked by dark maroon brown spots. Tepals are spatula shaped, abruptly narrowed at the base, the upper blade portion tapering to a pointed tip.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: whorl Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are generally elliptical, 2 to 4 inches long, ½ to 1 inch wide, toothless and hairless with a pointed tip, alternately attached on the lower stem and whorled at top, with 4 to 11 leaves in a whorl. The main stem is smooth and unbranched.


Wood Lily is the most widespread native lily species in Minnesota and in North America. Minnesota's var. andinum is the more western subspecies, var. philadelphicum is eastern, being differenciated by leaves in whorls throughout the stem. While beautiful to the human eye, it is also an imortant part of the food web. In any given population, single plants are typically found scattered around the area. In a grassy locale they are difficult to spot when not in bloom.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Cass County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Cass County and in a private garden in Anoka County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Carol - Park Rapids, Hubbard County
on: 2011-01-15 20:10:45

I saw one a year or so after I built a house and put in a driveway in 1990. It was along the driveway. I wish I had marked the spot and protected it as much as possible. I haven't seen it since.

Posted by: Bruce - Frenchman's Bluff SNA - Norman County, MN
on: 2012-10-23 10:13:41

Good sized patch blooming on small hilltop.

Posted by: Janet - Clearwater county
on: 2013-07-07 20:03:57

Several 7/13 in dry, sunny area. Pine and popple forest. Want to transplant it but afraid it will die!

Posted by: Rose - badger
on: 2013-07-11 11:33:10

We found one blooming in our front yard at the edge of the ditch.

Posted by: Alan - Stearns County
on: 2013-07-14 10:07:29

They were blooming in the southern area of Roscoe Prairie SNA on: 2013-07-13.

Posted by: Beth - Tofte, MN
on: 2013-08-04 21:10:07

They were blooming on a rock outcropping along Lake Superior's Shore

Posted by: Ronald - Waseca Co. Old rail tracks, few in a group, 6
on: 2013-10-03 14:05:38

Friends: Yesterday while collecting seed for a restoration also found the Wood Lily plants. Again these are different for this spot, seen the turk caps but not these Wood Lily before.

Posted by: Charles - Ivanhoe, MN
on: 2014-02-25 22:36:17

Is this the same lily I used to see as a child in road ditches around Elbow Lake, MN in the 1950s? What ever happened to them, they seemed to be everywhere back then and now I never see them anymore?!

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2014-02-26 04:51:08

Charles, what probably happened: human activity destroyed their habitat.

Posted by: Keith - Nerstrand State Park and Rural Pope County
on: 2014-05-20 15:30:20

I have found one plant growing in the ditch while driving through Nerstrand State Park and have also found them in Rural Pope County.

Posted by: Bill - Thief River Falls
on: 2014-07-04 20:48:57

The lily is blooming now in Pennington Co Minnesota

Posted by: Greg - Nisswa, central crow wing county
on: 2014-07-05 06:01:49

Beautiful blooming in sandy open areas

Posted by: Jenn - Great River Bluffs State Park
on: 2014-07-07 21:59:53

Found at the top of King's trail in Great River Bluffs State Park. (Winona)

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