The Giant Himalayan Lily

by Debby Jagerman-Dungan
( July 30th, 2011 )

Giant Himalayan Lily

Native to the Himalayas, the Giant Himalayan Lily, also known as ‘Cardiocrinum Giganteum’, is quite a unique flower. It starts out as just a large clump of glossy, leathery, heart-shaped, green leaves, which only get a couple of feet tall. It stays this way for an average of five to seven years (yes, five to seven years), from seed until the bulb matures.

Giant Himalayan Lily

Then in the middle of a summer after all these years, a tall shoot emerges from this clump of leaves carrying narrow jade-green flower buds. This shoot grows to be an average of ten feet (yes, ten feet) tall, making the Giant Himalayan Lily the largest species of any of the lily plants, and thus appropriately named.

Giant Himalayan Lily

The flower buds start to open one after another, from the bottom of the shoot on upwards, displaying fragrant flowers that are large, white, and trumpet-shaped, with a touch of burgundy in the middle. As many as twenty (yes, twenty) of these trumpets can bloom at one time on the shoot.

The Giant Himalayan Lily is considered a woodland plant, one that grows best in moist and shaded settings, with rich soil, and protected from the wind. And because it is native to the Himalayas, it grows at high elevations, thousands of feet above sea level.

Giant Himalayan Lily Trumpets
twelve trumpets

However, it also grows at lower elevations. In fact, in honor of my upcoming travels to Bhutan, a few weeks ago my neighbor’s Giant Himalayan Lily decided to bloom this year! John and Kay have had this plant for four years before it flowered (slightly less than the average because they got their plant in a pot), and the shoot was about eight feet tall. And the flowers were beautiful!! And, we only live at 675 feet elevation, just outside of Seattle.

Giant Himalayan Lily
John, my six-foot tall neighbor

I am taking this as a very good sign for my Bhutan travels that my neighbor’s Giant Himalayan Lily bloomed this year!

Sweet (and unique) Travels!

For more information on the Giant Himalayan Lily:
Flowers of India
The Intercontinental Gardner
Nature Hills Nursery
Wikipedia Cardiocrinum Giganteum

From our partners
On July 30th, 2011 at 3:53 pm, Nancy sorrell said:

Definitely a lovely omen! How nice!

On July 30th, 2011 at 7:29 pm, Debby Jagerman said:


On July 30th, 2011 at 9:46 pm, John Palmer said:

Nicely done! I hope it is a good omen for your upcoming adventures!

On July 31st, 2011 at 9:16 am, Debby Jagerman said:

Thanks, John. Thanks for showing me and telling me about the flower!

On August 1st, 2011 at 7:22 pm, Scott said:

That Lily flower is fantastic!

On August 3rd, 2011 at 8:00 am, Beth Shepherd said:

Very cool. I went to see the giant corpse flower that blooms maybe once every seven years (It was at UW Botanic Gardens). Your neighbor is lucky (and a good gardener)!

On August 3rd, 2011 at 8:15 pm, Debby Jagerman said:

Thanks, honey!

On August 3rd, 2011 at 8:15 pm, Debby Jagerman said:

Thanks, Beth. Isn’t nature fascinating?

On July 15th, 2013 at 9:23 am, jill pickup said:

I planted a giant Himalayan Lily 4 or 5 years ago in Scotland and has just flowered. 24 blooms, huge round deep brownish stem. As it flowered so the leaves began to die. I could smell the perfume several yards away.
Spectacular. The blooms have lasted about 10 days and there are about 6 left. As we are having a very warm summer this year perhaps they haven’t lasted as long as normal. I understand once the lily has flowered it dies .I hope not. I tucked the bulb into the ground in a shady area next to Rhododendrons in my wild garden.

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