Sunday, April 08, 2007

the bermuda lily

The Easter Lily, aptly named is used today as a symbol of Christ's resurrection. The lily also symbolizes purity. Churches all over the world are decked with these lilies on Easter Sunday, also serving as a remembrance of loved ones that have passed on. It was, however, not always known as the Easter lily but rather by another name - the Bermuda Lily.

Some interesting facts about the Bermuda/Easter Lily:
- To prolong the life of your lily, remove the yellow anthers in the middle of the bloom.
- If the yellow staining pollen gets on fabrics or clothing, do not rub it off but rather use sticky tape.
- Keep your cats away from the Bermuda/Easter Lily plant as its leaves are considered poisonous & can cause kidney failure in felines.

The lily originated from the southern islands of Japan & was then introduced to Bermuda via England in 1853. Back then Bermuda was much an agricultural land & production of the Easter lilies took off by leaps & bounds. So much so, that the lily was christened the Bermuda Lily. But when a virus killed off most of the crop, production moved to Japan. The Bermuda Lily was also introduced to America (southern coast of Oregon) during WWI by an American soldier, to be grown as a hobby. Japan still continued to dominate the lily market but with the breakout of WWII & the attack on Japan, lily exports to America ceased. By then the lily growing hobby in America grew to a commercial business. Now the area along the California-Oregon border is responsible for 95% of the world's Easter Lily production.

While the lily is no longer known as the Bermuda Lily, it's still grown here, although on not so large a scale. During spring, one can see fields of Easter Lily shrubs & by close to Easter these shrubs have given way to fields of perfumed white lilies. Locals can be spotted selling lilies by the buckets for those who prefer a bunch or a single stalk.

If however, you're buying a potted Easter Lily plant, don't trash it when the lilies have bloomed & the plant has died down. Plant the pot in your garden where the bulbs will lie dormant until next spring. If you're dubious about whether they will spring & bloom the following year, consider this. The Easter lilies I bought years ago in Toronto still rise up every spring after lying dormant in the frozen ground over winter where Toronto temperatures can dip to -20 C. Amazing isn't it?

No comments: