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Martagon Lily

Lilium martagon

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Liliaceae (Lily)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
120 centimetres tall
Gardens, grassland, hedgerows, meadows, mountains, rocky places, scrub, waterside, woodland.

Purple, 6 petals
The flowers of the Martagon Lily boast a distinctive and enchanting appearance. Resplendent in a variety of hues, including shades of pink, purple, and white, the petals exhibit an elegant recurved form, reminiscent of a turban. Each bloom sits atop a tall stem, reaching a height of 3 to 4 feet. The intricate design of the petals and the overall structure contribute to the allure of these lilies. With their captivating beauty and unique shape, Martagon Lily flowers add a touch of natural sophistication to gardens and woodland settings across the United Kingdom.
The Martagon Lily does not produce traditional fruits like those seen in some flowering plants. Instead, after the bloom has completed its cycle, the plant may form seed capsules. These capsules contain seeds for reproduction rather than what is conventionally considered as "fruit." The reproductive process in Martagon Lilies involves the development of these seed capsules, contributing to the plant's ability to propagate and spread in its natural habitat.
The leaves of the Martagon Lily are lance-shaped and typically arranged in whorls along the stem. Each leaf is characterised by a deep green colour and prominent veins. The foliage is slender and may exhibit a slight arching or drooping habit. The leaves serve as a complementary backdrop to the striking flowers, forming an attractive and lush green base. During the winter months, the leaves die back as the plant enters a period of dormancy, re-emerging in the following spring to support new growth and blossoms.
Martagon Lilies are known for their delightful fragrance. The scent of these lilies is often described as sweet and captivating. As the flowers bloom in late spring to early summer, they release a pleasant aroma that adds to the overall allure of the garden. The fragrance of Martagon Lilies can vary slightly depending on the specific cultivar or variety, but in general, it contributes to the sensory appeal of these beautiful blooms, enhancing the overall experience of encountering them in a garden setting.
Other Names:
Asiatic Lily, Dragon Lily, Lily of Istanbul, Mountain Lily, Sultan Lily, Turk's Cap Lily.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Lilium martagon, also known as the Turk's cap lily, is a species of lily that is native to Europe and Asia. It is a tall plant, growing up to 4 feet in height, with large, upward facing flowers that can be pink, red, purple, or white in color. The flowers are arranged in clusters and have reflexed, downward-pointing petals that give the flower a distinctive, "Turk's cap" shape. The plant prefers moist, well-drained soil and partial to full shade. It is often grown in gardens as an ornamental plant and also used in cut flower arrangements.


The Turk's Cap Lily, scientifically known as Lilium martagon, is a beautiful and unique species of lily that is native to Europe and Asia. This stunning flower is instantly recognizable due to its distinctive shape and coloration, which has made it a popular choice for gardeners and nature enthusiasts around the world.

Physical Characteristics

The Turk's Cap Lily is a tall, perennial plant that typically grows to around 3-4 feet in height. It features a central stem that is covered in long, narrow leaves that are arranged in a spiral pattern. At the top of the stem, the plant produces a cluster of up to 20 flowers, each of which is around 3 inches in diameter.

What sets the Turk's Cap Lily apart from other lilies is its unique flower shape. The petals of the Turk's Cap Lily curl back dramatically, exposing the stamens and pistils at the center of the flower. This creates a distinctive "turk's cap" shape that is unlike anything else in the plant world.


The Turk's Cap Lily is most commonly found in shades of pink and purple, although it can also be found in white, yellow, and even red. The petals of the flower are usually a deeper shade at the center, fading to a lighter hue towards the edges. This creates a striking contrast that makes the flower particularly eye-catching.

Cultural Significance

The Turk's Cap Lily has played an important role in human culture for centuries. In medieval times, the flower was often associated with the Virgin Mary and was used in religious artwork and iconography. The Turk's Cap Lily was also a popular subject for Renaissance painters, who were drawn to its unique shape and vibrant coloration.

In addition to its cultural significance, the Turk's Cap Lily has also been used for medicinal purposes. The plant contains compounds that are believed to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, and it has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including headaches, back pain, and arthritis.

Gardening Tips

If you're interested in growing Turk's Cap Lilies in your garden, there are a few things to keep in mind. These plants prefer well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter, and they require plenty of sunlight in order to thrive. It's also important to water Turk's Cap Lilies regularly, as they can become stressed in dry conditions.

One of the key benefits of growing Turk's Cap Lilies is that they are relatively low-maintenance. Once established, these plants will come back year after year, providing a reliable source of vibrant color in your garden.

The Turk's Cap Lily is a beautiful and unique flower that is sure to capture the attention of anyone who sees it. With its striking coloration and distinctive shape, this plant has been a favorite of gardeners and artists for centuries. Whether you're interested in the Turk's Cap Lily for its cultural significance, medicinal properties, or simply its stunning beauty, there's no denying that this is one of the most remarkable flowers in the world.

More Information

The Turk's Cap Lily is not only a beautiful and fascinating flower, but it also plays an important role in the ecosystem. As a nectar-producing plant, it is an important food source for pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. The flowers produce a sweet fragrance that attracts these pollinators, helping to ensure the survival of the plant and the animals that depend on it.

In addition to its role in the ecosystem, the Turk's Cap Lily is also an important cultural symbol. In Turkey, the plant is known as "Asiatic Lily" and is a national emblem, appearing on everything from postage stamps to coins. It has also been used in traditional Turkish medicine for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

The Turk's Cap Lily is not only a stunning plant in its natural environment or gardens, but it is also a popular subject for artists, photographers, and writers. The unique shape and vibrant colors of the flowers have inspired numerous paintings, photographs, and poems throughout history.

In literature, the Turk's Cap Lily has been used as a symbol of beauty, grace, and femininity. For example, in the book "The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett, the protagonist Mary Lennox is enchanted by a garden filled with Turk's Cap Lilies, which symbolize the beauty and transformation of nature.

In photography, the Turk's Cap Lily is a popular subject for nature photographers who seek to capture the plant's unique shape and coloration. The flowers are particularly striking when photographed up close, revealing the intricate details of their petals and stamens.

The Turk's Cap Lily is also a popular choice for cut flower arrangements due to its beauty and long-lasting blooms. The flowers can last up to two weeks in a vase with proper care, making them a great choice for special occasions or home decor.

When it comes to propagation, Turk's Cap Lilies can be propagated by bulbs, seeds, or division. Bulbs can be planted in the fall for blooms the following summer, while seeds can be sown in the spring or fall. Division is the most common method, as it allows gardeners to propagate the plant without damaging the parent plant. Division is typically done in the fall after the plant has finished blooming, and involves separating the bulbs into smaller sections and replanting them in new locations.

While the Turk's Cap Lily is a relatively hardy plant, it can be susceptible to certain diseases and pests. Some common issues include botrytis (a fungal disease), aphids, and lily beetle. To prevent these issues, it's important to maintain good garden hygiene, including cleaning up plant debris and avoiding overwatering. If problems do arise, there are a variety of treatments available, including fungicides and insecticides.

In conclusion, the Turk's Cap Lily is a fascinating and beautiful plant that has captured the attention of people across different fields and cultures. Whether you're a gardener, artist, writer, or nature enthusiast, there's no denying the allure of this unique and stunning flower. From its role in the ecosystem to its cultural significance and use in medicine, the Turk's Cap Lily is a plant that will continue to inspire and fascinate for generations to come.

Facts About the Martagon Lily

  1. Scientific Name: The Martagon Lily is scientifically known as Lilium martagon.

  2. Native Range: It is native to Europe and Asia, growing in a wide range of habitats, from meadows to forested areas.

  3. Height: Martagon Lilies typically reach a height of 3 to 4 feet (1 to 1.2 meters).

  4. Flower Structure: The flowers have a distinctive turban-like shape with recurved petals, giving them a unique appearance.

  5. Color Variety: Martagon Lilies come in various colors, including shades of pink, purple, white, and a mix of these colors.

  6. Blooming Season: They bloom in late spring to early summer, usually in June and July, depending on the region and climate.

  7. Hardiness: Martagon Lilies are known for their hardiness and can withstand cold temperatures, making them suitable for temperate climates.

  8. Sun Requirements: They prefer partial shade, making them an excellent choice for woodland gardens.

  9. Soil Preferences: Well-draining, slightly acidic to neutral soil is ideal for Martagon Lilies.

  10. Bulb Structure: Martagon Lilies grow from bulbs, and they naturalize well, forming colonies over time.

  11. Symbolic Meaning: Lilies, in general, symbolize purity and renewal. Martagon Lilies, with their unique appearance, add an extra layer of symbolism to these traits.

  12. Longevity: Once established, Martagon Lilies can be long-lived, providing years of beauty in the garden.

  13. Fragrance: Some varieties of Martagon Lilies are fragrant, adding a delightful scent to the garden.

  14. Wildflower Status: In some regions, Martagon Lilies are considered wildflowers, growing in their natural habitat without cultivation.

  15. Adaptability: They adapt well to different garden styles, from formal to more naturalistic settings.

  16. Attracts Pollinators: Martagon Lilies attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, contributing to the garden ecosystem.

  17. Hybrid Varieties: There are hybrid varieties of Martagon Lilies, created by crossing different species, leading to a broader range of colors and forms.

  18. Medicinal Uses: Historically, certain parts of lilies, including Martagon Lilies, have been used in traditional medicine for various purposes.

  19. Deer Resistant: Martagon Lilies are often resistant to deer, making them a good choice for gardens where deer are present.

  20. Winter Dormancy: During winter, Martagon Lilies go dormant, and their foliage dies back. They re-emerge in spring.

  21. Garden Companions: They pair well with other shade-loving plants like hostas and ferns, creating visually appealing combinations.

  22. Awards: Some Martagon Lily varieties have received awards from horticultural societies for their outstanding characteristics.

  23. Cultural Significance: In some cultures, lilies, including the Martagon Lily, hold cultural or symbolic significance in art, literature, and religious practices.

  24. Container Gardening: Martagon Lilies can be grown in containers, allowing those with limited garden space to enjoy their beauty.

  25. Landscaping Feature: Due to their height and unique appearance, Martagon Lilies can serve as a focal point in garden designs.

  26. Naturalizing Habit: Martagon Lilies have a naturalizing habit, spreading and multiplying over the years.

  27. Drought Tolerance: Once established, they demonstrate good tolerance to periods of drought.

  28. Cold Stratification: Some Martagon Lily seeds require a period of cold stratification to germinate, mimicking the conditions of winter.

  29. Potency Warning: Some parts of the lily plant, including the bulbs, can be toxic to pets if ingested. Caution should be taken in households with animals.

  30. Botanical Classification: Martagon Lilies belong to the genus Lilium within the family Liliaceae, showcasing their botanical lineage and relationships.


Martagon Lilies filmed in Hidcote, Gloucestershire on the 6th June 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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