Lily is a bulbous plant belonging to the genus Lilium in the family Liliaceae. More than 100 species of lilies are known to grow only in the northern hemisphere. There are 3 species of wild lilies in Romania’s flora: Lilium martagon L., Lilium bulbiferum L. and Lilium jankae A.Kern. Because of their ornamental qualities, horticulturists have produced hundreds of cultivars, modern lilies being the result of intensive hybridisation initiated by Jan de Graaff in 1938.
Lilies have been known since ancient times. In Greek mythology, the lily was considered the flower of the goddess Hera, wife of Zeus. They are mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments as a symbol of purity and chastity and have been associated with the Virgin Mary. Lilies are also of great importance in Christian and pagan traditions as they symbolise fertility.
These decorative flowering plants have always played a special role in garden landscaping: lilies are depicted in Minoan palace frescoes, they grew in Mesopotamian gardens, they were cultivated in Roman gardens.
The following species are illustrated on the postage stamps of the issue: lily (Lilium ‘Apeldoorn’), royal lily (Lilium regale E. H.Wilson), tiger lily (Lilium lancifolium Thunb. (Lilium tigrinum Ker Gawl.) and wood lily or Turk’s cap lily (Lilium martagon L.).
On the postage stamp with the face value of Lei 2.90 is illustrated the lily – Lilium ‘Apeldoorn’.
It is an Asian hybrid with orange flowers, edged with darker orange and with pronounced deeper orange stamens.
On the postage stamp with the face value of lei 3 is depicted the regal lily – Lilium regale E. H.Wilson.
Royal lily originates from southwest China and was introduced into cultivation in 1903 by Ernest Wilson. Royal in name and appearance, this lily has a memorable fragrance. In addition to its ornamental value, the plant also has medicinal values, with both bulbs and flowers being used.
It is probably the easiest white lily to grow. Its trumpet-shaped white flowers have a yellow throat and reddish flower exterior. The flower stalk reaches 100-150 cm and bears up to 25 flowers.
This species is the parent of many varieties of lily.
On the stamp with the face value of Lei 4.30 lei is illustrated the tiger lily – Lilium lancifolium Thunb. (Lilium tigrinum Ker Gawl.).
It originates from Guam, China, Korea and Japan and has been known for 100 years, mostly under the name L. tigrinum. The orange-red flower with dark purple dots has twisted tepals forming a “turban”. The flower stalk, usually brown, reaches 100-150 cm and supports 20-25 flowers. The plants are robust and easy to grow but the flowers are not fragrant. It is very resistant to diseases and viruses.
Throughout history, this lily has been widely cultivated in Asia for its edible bulbs. Used in food, they are similar in taste to turnips or potatoes.
The last postage stamp with the face value of Lei 11 of the series depicts the wood lily or Turk’s cap lily – Lilium martagon L.
The popular name refers to the shape of the flowers, which are said to resemble a turban. It is a Eurasian species of lily native to central and southwestern Europe as far south as Mongolia.
The lance-shaped leaves form spirals along the length of the stem. Flowers appear on the upper half of the stem, up to 20 on a stem. Flower colour ranges from purplish, pink to white, with dark brown spots on the inside of the recurved tepals.
Romfilatelia thanks the specialists of the “Dimitrie Brandza” Botanical Garden of the University of Bucharest for the documentary support provided for the development of this issue of postage stamps.