10 Fun and Amazing Facts That Make Lilies Unlike Any Other Flower

Written by Sam Hindman
Published: October 14, 2023
Share on:

Advertisement


Lilies are known for a number of things. Their versatility, their beauty, and their interesting genetic properties to name a few. But, these flowers aren’t just limited to what meets the eye. Lilies have a number of secrets and tales to share, many of which you’ve probably never heard before! In this article, we’ll be covering some of these lesser-known lily facts. So, whether you consider yourself a lily expert or are someone new to the nature of this majestic flower, you’ll be sure to learn something new in this list of fun lily facts!

#1: Lilies Have Strong Symbolism

Asiatic Lily 'Brunello' (Lilium) is a beautiful red-orange flower

Lilies have several symbolic meanings, depending on the type of lily and the setting it’s in. For instance, orange lilies often represent the desire for love.

©Sue Smith/Shutterstock.com

The first fun fact about lilies is that they have a broad and insanely interesting origin. Found in so many parts of the Earth, many cultures have identified with the lily in varying ways. Some symbolic meanings, you’ll see, are opposite to others. Though there are countless personal meanings that lilies can have, here are five of the most common forms of symbolism represented by the flower:

The Five Most Commonly Used Lily Symbols:

Purity: Though this is most closely associated with white lilies, all lilies have symbolism related to purity and virtue- especially in religious contexts. In Christianity, for instance, the Madonna Lily represents the Virgin Mary.

Death: Lilies are also symbolic of transience, and the fleeting and constantly-changing nature of existence. This is why they are commonly used at funerals. They are meant to symbolize the restored innocence of your soul after passing. Peaceful and pure, these flowers are meant to provide some level of comfort to those who are grieving.

Love: In contrast to funerals, you’ll often find lilies at a very different venue- weddings! They symbolize devotion and the feeling of being united. Different colors of lily can bring different emotions as well. For example, a red lily may signify passion, while an orange one can symbolize desire.

Fertility/Motherhood: Also rooted in religious contexts (as we’ll elaborate on later), the lily can also represent motherhood and bearing children. This is because of, among other things, the striking nature of its bloom. It makes people associate it with nurturing, and adjacently the specific nurturing of a mother to a child.

Rebirth: If you’ve seen lilies around come Easter season, it’s no coincidence. Much like how they symbolize death, they can also symbolize the renewal of life! You see, the bulb of the lily dies and enters a dormant state throughout certain parts of the year. Then, of course, it suddenly springs into full bloom. This cyclical pattern is what makes some associate it with new beginnings, and the renewal of life.

#2: Some Lilies Are Frauds

Their name might be convincing, but calla lilies aren’t really lilies at all!

©Fotosr52/Shutterstock.com

Lilies fall into the genus Lilium, a category that over one hundred different flower species fall into. There are lilies of every size, shape, and color that one could imagine! But, some of the most commonly known types of “lilies” aren’t actually lilies at all! This fun lily fact reveals that calla and water lilies aren’t true lilies at all! They fall under completely separate genera and families. So, why are they referred to as such if they aren’t lilies? The simple answer is that they look like regular lilies! They have their recognizable trumpet shape, and this is likely why they are named for the genus despite not actually being in it.

#3: Lilies Don’t Have A Season

Regale lily

Lilies need very little amounts of human intervention to grow and thrive.

©Tasha-photo/Shutterstock.com

While many other flowers seem to only thrive during specific parts of the year, lilies don’t actually have a particular on or off season. They are perennial plants and need little to no human interaction in order to thrive in their natural environments. Growing up to six feet in some circumstances, lilies are pretty resourceful without any need for help from us! Not to mention, they can grow from either a seed or bulb. That said, don’t be surprised if you see a thriving lily where you least expect it!

#4: The Greeks Loved Lilies

Statues of ancient gods Zeus and Athena.

Lilies have strong symbolism in ancient Greek culture, as they are often correlated to the wife of Zeus, Hera.

©markara/Shutterstock.com

In ancient Greek culture, there was a belief that the original lilies were created from the milk of the esteemed queen of the Gods, Hera. Hera, who was also Zeus’ wife, was known to have birthed and mothered many of the other Greek Gods. Because of this, we’re presented with the fun fact that lilies were held in especially high regard and were commonly associated with motherhood.

#5: Lilies Used To Be Used As Medicine

The roots of wood lilies have often been used medicinally for stomach problems and fevers.

©iStock.com/Corey T. Burns

These flowers might not be agreeable to everyone, especially not our pets, but they have historically been used in medicinal contexts throughout the centuries. Here are some of the many ways in which these flowers have been used:

Lily Bulbs: These bulbs, which are edible, were traditionally used in the north/central parts of Asia to relieve ailments. (Not only this- but they were also considered a luxurious snack!)

Dried Lilies: Can’t seem to use the restroom? Well, according to ancient medical practitioners, some dried-up lilies will do the trick to help get your system going!

Wood Lily Roots: To this day in some regions, the roots of wood lilies are given to patients who are experiencing trouble with their abdomen, or suffering from an intense fever.

#6: They Don’t Actually Smell

white oriental lilies

Of the hundreds of types of lily, there are only two that emit any kind of scent.

©Flower_Garden/Shutterstock.com

While this isn’t so much of a fun lily fact as the rest, the truth is that lilies have been lying about their scent! Well, sort of. You see, lilies are associated with a fresh, fragrant kind of smell. In reality, though, only two kinds of lilies (from the hundreds within the genus) have any scent at all. These two lilies are the tiger lily as well as the white lily.

#7: Lilies Last A Long Time

Springtime, spring fresh bouquet of lilies of the valley, pink roses, blooming viburnum

Lilies are commonly used in bouquets due to their longevity once picked.

©Valeriy_G/iStock via Getty Images

If you’re trying to choose the perfect bouquet for your beau, lilies are a popular option for a reason. You see, lilies actually have quite a long lifespan once cut, which isn’t a common trait for flowers! It’s nice to have flowers with some longevity around your home so that you don’t have to worry about ditching them to the dumpster in a week’s time. The trick to making your lilies last? Make sure to take any pollen out of the center of the flower.

#8: Lilies Don’t Like Being Lonely

Yellow and orange day-lily garden flowers growing under sunlight. Daylily Hemerocallis or Stella D'Oro Reblooming Daylily flower close up. Vivid inflorescences of flowering plant.

Lilies don’t grow well all by their lonesome- they’re known to be social flowers!

©DiandraNina/Shutterstock.com

If you have one or two lilies and don’t understand what’s taking their growth so long, consider that they might feel lonely! Well, not literally. But almost! You see, lilies are known to be social butterflies. They actually grow faster and with more breadth when they are planted together, in a group.

#9: You Can Use Lilies For A Spa Day

Woman Massaging Parotid Gland - Largest Salivary Gland

The oil of a lily has a number of useful personal applications, and massaging is certainly one of those!

©aijiro/Shutterstock.com

As if these lovely flowers couldn’t get any more useful, they can actually be utilized to treat your skin from dryness and damage. The oil that can be extracted from these flowers has been known to provide softening properties. Not only can it be used as a topical treatment, but you can also try massaging with it or buying it in the form of a facial moisturizer!

#10: Lilies Get Around

Pink Lily; Hybrid Lilium orientalis; Roselily Natalia

The lily flower, in one of its many forms, can be found in several parts of the globe.

©Patrick Enos/Shutterstock.com

Our final fun fact about lilies is that they are found in more places than you might suspect. Did you know that they’re actually one of the most common flowers on the European continent? To boot, they can be found in nearly every part of Asia, and are found throughout North America as well. This is because they propagate from their own seeds, and they are able to do so quite easily. These flowers are certainly strong in more ways than one.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Tom Meaker/Shutterstock.com


Share on:
About the Author

Sam Hindman is a writer at A-Z animals covering a range of topics, including pet care, plant care, pest control and travel destinations. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Multimedia Studies at Point Park University, set to graduate in the spring of 2024. A resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when she isn't writing, she's spending time with her beloved cat Archie.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.