Press-Republican

Columns

March 24, 2013

The lily of the season

Easter season is upon us. It’s a time of joy and celebration, of religious significance, and of the promise of spring and the summer months ahead.

Perhaps the most widely shared symbol is the Easter lily, Lilium longiflorum, with its magnificent white flowers and fragrance.

It is said that lilies were found growing in the garden of Gethsemane, and that lovely white lilies grew where Jesus’s blood, sweat and tears fell in the hours before his death. For Easter Sunday, many churches cover their altars with lilies to commemorate the Resurrection and remember loved ones who have passed away.

Easter lilies are the fourth largest crop in wholesale value in the U.S. potted-plant market. I find that remarkable when you consider they are sold for only two or three weeks each year. Poinsettias, mums and azaleas rank first, second and third. Widely grown Easter lily cultivars include Ace, Croft and the Estate variety, which can grow to be three feet tall. Nellie White, a popular cultivar that produces large trumpet-like flowers, was created by lily grower James White, who named the hybrid after his wife.

Easter lilies are native to the Ryukyu Islands of southern Japan and, prior to World War II, when commercial production shifted to the United States, the vast majority of potted Easter lily bulbs sold in the United States were imported from Japan. Today, the superior quality of U.S. bulbs is recognized around the world.

Bermuda was a center for production of Easter lilies from the 1850s until 1898, when a virus and nematode infestation wiped out the industry. In 1919, Louis Houghton brought the first hybrid Bermuda bulbs to the United States. They were planted along Oregon’s southern seacoast.

Today, almost all the bulbs grown for the potted Easter lily market are produced on just 10 farms along the California-Oregon border. Every year, from late September through early October, these growers harvest roughly 12 million bulbs, which they ship to commercial greenhouses. The bulbs are then planted in pots and “forced” indoors to flower just in time for Easter.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • ouellette.jpg Web doctor always gets it right

    I have access to the collected medical knowledge of all recorded history at my fingertips, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Airport projects can benefit local economy

    Using a local workforce keeps wages and spending in the community if it can be done in a cost-effective manner, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Producers can recycle tubing

    Project allows maple-syrup makers to conveniently dispose of their used tubing in an environmentally friendly way, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • little_mug.jpg There's no saw like an old saw Kaye and I laughed ourselves silly the other day as we tried to top each other with our own sayings from childhood, columnist Gordie Little writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg Privacy concerns make a comeback

    There's a growing concern amongst the millennials, columnist Stu Denenberg writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Several options exist for downtown

    Pedestrian mall just one idea that could be good for city's economic future, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Government can't create success on its own

    It takes a grass-roots community effort of people working together to assure future accomplishment, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns
Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time