The Q&A Archives: Corn Lily

Question: My question is I just received bulbs I bought from a school fundraiser and they call the flower a Corn Lily and I never heard of it and I searched your data base and found no info on it. The package of course has no info except how deep to plant it. Other than that I have no info. The only thing I can tell you is the picture shows a plant with long leaves like that of a japanese lily and the flowers are clustered together on a long pertruding stem....

Answer: Oh dear! According to the "Dictionary of Horticulture", corn lily is another name for Veratrum californicum, also known as skunk cabbage but this doesn't sound like the plant you have. From your description it might be any one of a number of non-hardy bulbs from Acidanthera (Abyssinian Gladiolus) to perhaps Tuberose, to perhaps some sort of amaryllis or Crinum or Montbretias, or even something more unusual such as Anigozanthos (Kangaroo Paw). Then and again it might be a hardy plant such as Crocosmia or Belamcanda or .... I think the best thing to do is to plant it according to the instructions and see what actually grows. Meanwhile you might find an illustrated book about bulbs such as Rob Proctor's "The Indoor Potted Bulb" ISBN 0-671-87034-3 helpful in trying to identify it based on the picture on the package. Enjoy your mystery plants!

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