Meet the Toad Lilies

Fall is such a great time to take advantage of some awesome deals at your local nursery. Plants that have gone out of bloom or are in the process of going dormant always seem to have a lower price tag on them. What's more, fall is the best time, at least in the temperate zones, to plant most things. However, a fall stroll around a nursery or garden center isn't without floral beauty. One group of plants that are exceptionally beautiful at this time of the year are the toad lilies.

Native to parts of China, Japan, the Himalayas, Formosa, and the Philippines, the genus Tricyrtis is growing in popularity as a horticultural curiosity. It's not hard to believe once the true beauty of this genus is realized. In the wild, these plants are denizens of shady forest hillsides and are often encountered on wet slopes. Being a member of the lily family, the floral parts of these plants are arranged in multiples of three. Genetic analysis puts this genus into the same group as Calochortus lilies and indeed, they do share some superficial similarities.

The flowers are the real selling points of this genus. They kind of look like a cross between a lily and a passion flower. The name toad lily comes from the speckled appearance of the leaves and petals. That is by and large the only toad-like qualities these plants have other than preferring moisture of course. There has been a lot of debate over what may pollinate the flowers. It is believed that at least some species such as Tricyrtis nana reproduce mainly via self-fertilization whereas others seem to attract mainly bumblebees.

Photo Credit: Nedra (http://bit.ly/1uu7nNA), gafa kassim (http://bit.ly/XIweSX), and dbarronoss (http://bit.ly/1uWjyUN)

Further Reading: [1] [2]