A lemon lily growing in vitro in a test tube. Photo courtesy Dave Stith

By Dave Stith

The Lemon Lily Restoration Project is a collaborative effort between Idyllwild residents and the Forest Service. In 2009 and 2010 Forest Service personnel collected Lilium parryi seeds from National Forest and Wilderness areas in the San Jacinto Mountains. Likewise, representatives of the Lemon Lily Festival steering committee were given seeds by Idyllwild residents from native plants growing on their properties in Idyllwild or given permission to collect seeds on private property. See the accompanying article entitled, “How to Collect Lemon Lily Seeds in a Responsible Manner.” In addition, a few plants were purchased from a commercial nursery.

Some of the seeds were sewn directly into the ground in select locations. We are also trying to learn how best to cultivate the lilies from seeds to plants whose size and age will better insure their survival once transplanted into the wild. Most of the seeds that have been allocated for this purpose are being germinated and grown utilizing traditional gardening techniques.

A number of seeds have been germinated using a tissue culture technique. Seeds were cleaned and their surface sterilized before being inoculated onto sterile media containing nutrients and growth factors. We hope to expand this experiment once materials and equipment can be obtained through grants or donations.

Of the 101 plants that were purchased, 59 have been planted in eleven separate locations in Idyllwild. Most of these have been concentrated in areas around town where they can be viewed by people living in or visiting Idyllwild. The remaining plants are being held at the Idyllwild Nature Center and will be displayed prior to and during the Lemon Lily Festival.

The long term plan for restoration is not and never has been to rely on commercially grown plants. The reasons for this are many. First, it is not economically feasible to purchase thousands of plants at retail price for the many years it will take to accomplish our objective. Second, there are so few plants being grown by nurseries that in many years there will be few if any available to purchase. Finally, as a matter of philosophy and ecological concerns, we want to use plants from local seed stocks to restore Lilium parryi to its historical range in the San Jacintos.

If you would like to donate supplies, or become a member of the Subcommittee on Restoration and help collect seeds, grow, and plant Lemon lilies please contact us.

Written by Dave Stith

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