CPC Plant Profile: Gray's Lily
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Plant Profile

Gray's Lily (Lilium grayi)

This shot shows the beautiful flowers of Gray's lily. Photo Credit: Paul Somers
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Liliaceae
  • State: GSM, NC, TN, TVA, VA
  • Nature Serve ID: 139859
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 02/10/1987

Grays lily is a delicate lily of the North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia mountains. It is characterized by having purple-spotted orange-red drooping bell-like flowers in mid June-July. Although Grays lily generally grows to 2-3, it can grow up to heights of 8 (Smith 1998). It is a narrow endemic originally found on Roan Mountain in 1840 and is restricted to high-elevation grassy balds, meadows, mountain bogs, and seeps along the North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia borders (Bates 2000).

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Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

A regional endemic threatened mainly by commercial exploita- tion and private gardeners. Few EO's of pure L. grayi and low abundance.

  • 01/01/2010

Overgrazing by cattle, herbivory by rabbits and European wild boars, habitat destruction, illegal collecting, low capsule production, canopy shading, and early senescence of flowering plants prior to capsule production. Past research shows that anthr

  • 01/01/2010

61 extant populations in NC, some have only 5-10 plants. (Bates 2000) Found in only one county in Tennessee. (Chester 1993)

  • 01/01/2010

Botanists for the Plant Conservation Program (PCP) are investigating the effects of clearing overstory on fungal infection and seed production. Preliminary results suggest that canopy clearing does not decrease early senescing but it may delay fungal infections. These data further suggest that plants with delayed fungal infection may have the opportunity to flower and produce capsules before wilting. Delaying the onset of fungal infection is one means of increasing capsule production (Bates 2000). Continued monitoring and experimentation are being conducted by the PCP (see Bates 2000).

  • 01/01/2010

Some active management on protected lands (canopy clearing, cattle exclusion). Unknown management on many private lands.

  • 01/01/2010

Protect existing populations and surrounding areas from development. Continued research on fungal effects and early senescence. Pollination biology, general ecological relationships.

  • 01/01/2010

Seed collection from all extant populations


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Taxon Lilium grayi
Authority S. Wats.
Family Liliaceae
CPC Number 2546
ITIS 42725
Common Names Gray's lily
Associated Scientific Names Lilium grayi | Lilium pseudograyi
Distribution Northwestern North Carolina, northeastern Tennessee, and southwestern Virginia. (Bates 2000)
State Rank
State State Rank
Great Smokies PH
North Carolina S3
Tennessee S1
Tennessee Valley Authority S
Virginia S2

Sandstone shallow, acidic soils mountain balds, steep summits and bluff outcrops meadows and forest openings that receive full sun at high elevations. (Bates 2000)

Ecological Relationships

Grows best in areas with little canopy cover. Has been observed to be susceptible to at least three different types of fungal infections (Colletotricum sp., Botrytis sp and Alternaria sp). Botryis and Alternia infections probably occur after senescence and infection by Colletoticum (Bates 1997).

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Hummingbirds Archilochus colubris Confirmed Pollinator Link
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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