The plant of the week is Lilium longiflorum - the beautiful and stately Easter lily.
Currently, nearly all of the Easter lily bulbs used in the U.S. are grown on coastal bottom lands in northwestern California and southwestern Oregon. Earlier bulbs were a brisk trade from Bermuda.
In the 1920s, disease affected all of the lily crop and USDA agricultural research started to distribute healthy seeds and plant material to U.S. growers.
Japan was also a bulb distributor until the 1940s. Their supply of bulbs was suddenly cut off after their attack on Pearl Harbor.
Easter lilies suddenly became a very valuable crop in the U.S.
This pure white striking plant is both beautiful and deadly. It is a rich source of steroidal glycosides. It's very toxic to cats, which can be bothered just by brushing against blooms and coating their fur with pollen. Some people have allergies to the plant, especially if they are removing the center yellow antlers. Removing these antlers will help keep the bloom longer. It is not a necessary thing to do. The antler pollen may stain hands and materials.
There is a problem nowadays with the amount of pesticide used by growers in California. This heavy pesticide use is being monitored closely by the Siskiyou Land Conservancy.
Streams that are home to salmon and steelhead are in danger of pollution as the growers use about 300,000 pounds of toxic pesticides annually in growing beds, according to reports by the conservancy.
Easter lilies come in tall, medium and dwarf sizes.
Eastertide is the time Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ and the Easter lily is an important symbol. Churches make many religious references to the beauty and significant legends of this lily.
You can plant you lily in the garden but it will take a year or two to possibly have a bloom. Prices this year are excellent and the shelves are full of healthy looking plants.
Happy Easter to all - until we me meet again.
H.I. Jean Shields is Past President of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.