The Sandhills Lily and the Orange Fringed Orchid

The Sandhills Lily (Lilium pyrophilum) and the Orange Fringed Orchid (Platanthera ciliaris) can  occasionally be found growing together in the Sandhills Region of North Carolina.  However, their circumstances are very different.  The Sandhills Lily is one of nine species that are endemic to the Sandhills,  and is very rarely seen outside this harsh, low nutrient habitat.  In fact, even within the Sandhills, it is confined to areas with wet soils like stream heads and seeps.  Sandhills Lilies are protected by the state and are rated as status-Endangered, rank-Imperiled by the NC Natural Heritage Program.  They are tall lilies with beautiful blooms as seen in the following photographs.

Lilium pyrophilum
Sandhills Lily

Lilium pyrophilum
Sandhills Lily

As seen below, Sandhills Lilies can have up to five flowers blooming on a single stem.

Lilium pyrophilum
Sandhills Lily

In contrast to the limited range of the Sandhills Lily, the Orange Fringed Orchid can adapt to many moist habitats, and is found in both the Coastal Plain and the Mountains of North Carolina.  In addition, in the U.S. it ranges from New England to Florida.  The photograph below depicts an orchid in its early budding stage.

Platanthera ciliaris
Orange Fringed Orchid
Budding

These orchids have a true orange color, with delicate fringes on the lower petal of the flowers.

Platanthera ciliaris
Orange Fringed Orchid

Below, a closer look at the fringes.

Platanthera ciliaris
Orange Fringed Orchid
Fringes

The fringes occur on the margins of the lower flower petal, called the labellum.

Platanthera ciliaris
Orange Fringed Orchid
Fringes

The Sandhills Lily (Lilium pyrophilum) was identified as a unique species and described by Bruce Sorrie in 2002.  The species name, pyrophilum, is a reference to its fire-dependent nature.  A photograph of the Sandhills Lily also graces the cover of the definitive work on the flora of the Sandhills region:  A Field Guide to the Wildflowers of the Sandhills Region by Bruce Sorrie.

Herb Amyx

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