Easter Lily in flowerCredit: wordspeller

The Flowers of Lilium longiflorum

White Trumpet Lily, St Joseph's Lily, Bermuda Lily and Christmas Lily.

All these names describe, define and denote the flowers we most commonly call Easter Lilies.

A thin, trumpeted specimen of a plant, Easter Lilies (Lilium longiflorum) are highly recognizable for their elegant, long white flowers and golden pollen.


Easter Lilies are native to Japan, where they are known as Teppo Yuri. Collected by the botantist, Carl Peter Thunberg in 1777, they are a wild flower species of the Ryukyu Islands, and grow at sea level, in a natural habitat of rocky coastal areas and grasslands. 

Enjoying mild, frost-free seasonal conditions, these Easter flowers grows up to one meter in height and is sheathed in dark green, scattered, lanceolate leaves. Producing four or more white, fragrant trumpets in mid Summer, Lilium longiflorum are easy to grow, and have naturalized in parts of South Africa, the United States and Australia.

Close up photo of Lilium longiflorum hybridCredit: wordspeller

A Lily for Easter

Meaning 'long flowers', longiflorum is the definitive term for describing the stunning Easter Lily. Over the past century, it has become a leading flower in the floriculture industry of the United States, Israel and the Netherlands. 

Many hybrid versions of this trumpeted species have been created through plant breeding in Europe, Japan and the USA, and are 'forced' into bloom, by the million, in commercial greenhouses every year. As a cut flower and potted plant, it is bred, cultivated and heavily promoted as the flower for Easter. Popular varieties  include 'Nellie White', 'Snow Queen' and 'White America'.

Lilium longiflorum 'Snow Queen' flowerCredit: wordspeller

A Traditional Flower

The giving, growing and arranging of Easter Lilies is a North American tradition. Nowhere else in the world is there such a proliferation of these flowers than in the United States and Canada at Easter time. Florists, grocery stores and plant nurseries stock large supplies of these lilies prior to, and during this period and often sell out quickly.

With a brief 14 day period for sales, Easter Lilies are surprisingly one of the highest valued crops in the wholesale US potted plant market. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, it ranks in fourth place, after poinsettias, chrysanthemums and azaleas. It just goes to show that decorated eggs and chocolate bunnies aren't the only items 'in' for Easter.

Easter lilies are the most sought-after of all flowers at Easter. Primarily sold as budding plants in plastic pots, it is also available as cut flowers wrapped in plastic sleeves and elaborate bouquets mixed with Spring flowers. With over 12 million bulbs grown each year in North America, the tradition of this flower is not about to die out anytime soon.

Signifying purity, hope and innocence, Easter Lilies are also regarded as a sacred symbol in Christian tradition. Representing the resurrection of Jesus Christ, its flowers are used to decorate altars and crosses during Easter church services, commemorating faith in the Holy Spirit.  

Whether acknowledged in their divine sense, or appreciated for their elegance and longevity, Easter Lilies are proof of the beauty inherent in all flowers. Whatever time or place you buy yours this season, Lilium longiflorum says it all.

Next article: Spotting Tiger Lily Flowers