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Does anyone recognize this unusual wildflower?

Does anyone recognize this unusual wildflower?


antherAs you can imagine, I have seen a lot of different wildflowers in North America and Mesoamerica, but never this one.   I live in the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains.  While taking my morning walk with the Three Canine Musketeers this morning, I noticed these incredibly beautiful blooms that had appeared over night after we finally received long overdue rainfall.  The blooms are about the size of a tulip and thick like a tulip.

It is on a steep bank in a small clearing within massive hardwood trees.  The location only gets sunlight mid-day. 

Notice that the anthers are hanging down BENEATH THE FLOWER PETALS.   The petals remained folded even when the flowers are mature.  The anthers are much larger than are typical for flowers this size.

If you have any idea what this flower is, please drop me a note in the comments section.

Thank you!

Richard Thornton

UPDATE:   Yes, it is a Turk’s Cap Lilly, but it is not the Turk’s Cap Lilly typically seen in flower nurseries.  That plant is from Eurasia.  The same name was given to this flower, that is indigenous to the Appalachian Mountains.  According to descriptions on websites, it grows very slow and only at certain locations . . . hence the reason that I have never seen it before.   Even the few nurseries that have successfully cultivated this wild plant have flowers that are little different.  Notice that the anthers are red-orange.  The cultivated varieties have brown anthers.

Thank you for all your help!

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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.



    I do not know the name of this wildflower, however, I do know that Wilbur and Marion Duncan wrote several books complete with pictures on wildflowers. The Duncan’s were associated with UGA. You may want to check out this as it is a great resource for native plants!!

    I so love your writings and consider it a privilege to read such scholarly research!


    It looks a lot like a Turk’s Cap Lily (Lilium superbum).


    I agree. Lilium superbum, one of the true lilies, unfortunately becoming rare. I believe the lilies benefit from fire, which of course is suppressed in much of the East these days. You might want to do a post on Creek use of fire to favor certain plants, if that knowledge still exists.



    • What is a hybrid lily doing growing wild in the middle of a forest? Everything else in the woods is indigenous. Are their indigenous Turk’s Cap lilies?


    Greetings Cuz!
    That is called a trout Lilly. The speckles on the petals resemble trout speckles.
    One of the many indigenous life forms in our southern Highlands.
    Out of the country right now but keeping up with your posts as I can.

    • Thank you cuz. It is the most beautiful flower that I have ever seen. I am going to check around and see if these can be transplanted by experts to a location where they can grow in number.

    • Thank you for the info. I spent a year living in the wilderness of the Appalachians and had never seen this beautiful flower before. It must be endangered.


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