Lilium superbum is a species of true lily native to the eastern and central regions of North America.[3][4][5] Common names include Turk's cap lily,[3] turban lily,[4] swamp lily,[6] lily royal,[6] or American tiger lily.[citation needed] The native range of the species extends from southern New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York, west to Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas, and south to Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida.[3][7]


Lilium superbum grows from 3–7 feet (0.91–2.13 m) high with typically three to seven blooms, but exceptional specimens have been observed with up to 40 flowers on each stem.[4] It is capable of growing in wet conditions.[8] It is fairly variable in size, form, and color.[4] The color is known to range from a deep yellow to orange to a reddish-orange "flame" coloring with reddish petal tips.[4] The flowers have a green star at their center that can be used to distinguish L. superbum from the Asiatic "tigerlilies" that frequently escape from cultivation.[5] It grows in swamps, woods, and wet meadows.[9]


The roots were a food source for Native Americans, and the flowers provide nectar for hummingbirds and larger insects.[10]


It is listed as endangered in Florida, New Hampshire, Alberta and Saskatchewan and threatened in Kentucky, and exploitably vulnerable in New York.[3]


The Turk's cap common name is derived from the reflexed shape of the flower petals, which presumably resemble a type of hat worn by early Turkish people.[9]



Cats are extremely sensitive to lily toxicity and ingestion is often fatal;[11][12][13] households and gardens that are visited by cats are strongly advised against keeping this plant or placing dried flowers where a cat may brush against them and become dusted with pollen that they then consume while cleaning. Suspected cases require urgent veterinary attention.[14] Rapid treatment with activated charcoal and/or induced vomiting can reduce the amount of toxin absorbed (this is time-sensitive so in some cases vets may advise doing it at home), and large amounts of fluid by IV can reduce damage to kidneys to increase the chances of survival.[14]

Traditional uses

The bulbs were made into soups by some Native Americans.[15]


  1. ^ NatureServe (30 June 2023). "Lilium superbum". NatureServe Network Biodiversity Location Data accessed through NatureServe Explorer. Arlington, Virginia: NatureServe. Retrieved 15 July 2023.
  2. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  3. ^ a b c d United States Department of Agriculture plants profile
  4. ^ a b c d e Blanchan, Neltje (2005). Wild Flowers Worth Knowing. Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.
  5. ^ a b Connecticut Botanical Society
  6. ^ a b "Lilium superbum". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  7. ^ Biota of North America Program 2014 county distribution map
  8. ^ Synge, Patrick M. Collins Guide to Bulbs. (1961)
  9. ^ a b "Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin".
  10. ^ Hilty, John (2020). "Turk's Cap Lily". Illinois Wildflowers. Retrieved 15 July 2023.
  11. ^ Frequently Asked Questions No Lilies For Cats.
  12. ^ Fitzgerald, KT (2010). "Lily toxicity in the cat". Top Companion Anim Med. 25 (4): 213–7. doi:10.1053/j.tcam.2010.09.006. PMID 21147474.
  13. ^ Pearson, Dan (21 July 2013). "Turk's cap lily is pure delight". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 July 2023.
  14. ^ a b Morrison, Barri J. (30 September 2022). "Lily Poisoning in Cats". Pet MD. Retrieved 15 July 2023.
  15. ^ Niering, William A.; Olmstead, Nancy C. (1985) [1979]. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region. Knopf. p. 603. ISBN 0-394-50432-1.

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