Tom's Blog

Monday, July 15, 2013

Turk's cap lily response to wetland burn

The turk's cap (Lilium michiganese) lilies in our wetland areas show remarkable responses to fire. In years that we don't burn, there are always a few lilies in flower, but most of the populations either don't flower at all, or make only a few short flowers. But the response when we burn is fantastic.

This year, undoubtedly because of our major wetland burn, the lily populations are the greatest we have ever seen. Last year  the population in the photo below  had about 20 flower heads. This year we have over 200! And up and down the wetland edge there are large or small populations, many of which are not even seen in a year without fire.

Turk's cap lily population responding to fire. Also called Michigan lily.

Close up photo by Kathie Brock
Most of our turk's cap lily populations grow in and among lush sedge meadows. I assume that the fire gets rid of last year's thatch, thus giving the lilies a head start.

According to the UW-Madison Herbarium, this lily has been found throughout most of Wisconsin, but it is now becoming rare due to habitat loss.


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