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Postings are excerpts from the exhibition catalog edited by Carol Woodin

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wood Lily, Watercolor by Carol E. Hamilton, US

Lilium philadelphicum var. philadelphicum pterourus glaucus

Listings: Endangered, Extirpated, Maryland; Endangered, Tennessee

The Plant’s Story

There are two varieties of the North American wood lily, one of more western distribution and one of more eastern and northern distribution. The western variety, Lilium philadelphicum var. andinum is fairly common, however populations of the eastern variety have fallen, leading to its listing as endangered in two states, and threatened in several others. Wood lilies are usually found in meadows or along edges of forests. Their decrease has occurred in tandem with the increase in white-tailed deer and human populations, the former grazing on them, the latter picking them or digging them up, and converting their habitat to housing and other developments. Some tribes of Native Americans used the wood lily for food, eating the bulbs as potatoes are eaten today. The University of Michigan maintains an on-line database of Native American Ethnobotany which was begun in the 1970s.

The Artist’s Story: Carol E. Hamilton

The structure and color of the wood lily are outstanding and it is little wonder that it attracts both pollinators and predators. Only after I have sufficient understanding of the species, can I accurately depict my subjects. I take photographs and make sketches while studying a plant in the field. I wanted to share the flower’s vibrant color and graceful shape, and to draw the viewer into the painting by following the flight of the butterflies into the lilies. The challenge is to put the knowledge of the plant and the glory of its beauty on paper for the viewer.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.