National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Lily (Leopard)

Lily (Leopard)

Lilium pardalinum
July to August

The Scottish-American naturalist and author John Muir (1838-1914), was born in Dunbar in East Lothian. He emigrated to the United States of America with his parents in 1849 and studied engineering before setting off to walk the High Sierra following an accident in which he lost an eye. From this first adventure he went on to spend his life time studying the natural history of the American west, especially in the area around Yosemite. A vigorous and determined campaigner, he fought for the establishment of a national park and the protection of the Giant Redwood Trees. Charismatic and erudite he wrote several books and many consider him to be the father of modern conservation. This quote from his first book 'My First Summer in the Sierra' (1911) talks about the majestic native American wild flower Lilium pardalinum.

"What grand bells these lilies have! Some of them are big enough for children's bonnets - more beautiful and better kept gardens cannot be imagined".

Found through most of the cool Californian coastal woods where it grows to almost two metres tall, and produces leaf whorls over 30 centimetres wide above which sit a mass of bright orange purple spotted flowers.

John Muir. Library of Congress, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

John Muir
Library of Congress, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Today the John Muir Trust which was founded in Scotland in 1984 for the protection of wild land is one of the nation's premier conservation bodies.

Leopard Lily. Image credit: Bureau of Land Management California's photostream, Flickr. Public domain
Open Leopard Lily. Image credit: beautifulcataya, Flickr. CC license