Nestled away in our local mountains there exists a small population of the threatened Lemon Lily (Lilium parryi)–my most recent muse and participant in a “secret” relationship with a silent night-time creature.
Prior to the early 1900’s, these fragrant bright yellow lilies thrived by the ten’s of thousands and people came from all around to admire their bloom. They were so loved that many collectors and bulb gardeners soon dug them up to near extinction in the San Jacinto mountains. It wasn’t until 100 years later that the mountain town of Idyllwild, CA learned about the forgotten history of their beautiful native lilies, and decided to create a festival in its honor with the mission to educate the public about the Lemon Lily while dedicating their efforts to re-establishing this plant back to its original glory and numbers!
Botanists, biologists, geneticists, ecologists, and naturalists have collaborated on behalf of the Lemon Lily to learn more about the species, its niche, its role in the ecosystem, and its natural history. A vital component to its survival lies in a symbiotic relationship with a pollinator. No one has yet to spend time in the field to monitor what pollinators visit these flowers, but the most agreed upon suspect is the White-lined Sphinx Moth ((Hyles lineata), also known as the Hummingbird Moth because of its ability to hover over flowers while sipping nectar. This likely pollinator to the Lemon Lily comes out at dusk to feed, and it is speculated that the very fragrant Lemon Lily along with its yellow color attracts this night-time pollinator.
This vital and “secret” relationship was my inspiration in creating my submission, “Dusk” to the annual Lemon Lily Festival banner competition. I wanted to remind people of the need to maintain and protect our ecosystems, especially the smaller niche communities within those ecosystems where multiple species rely on each others existence for their survival. I also love this magical time of day where time is suspended for a brief moment between day and night, and there is a peaceful breath before the energy of the night awakens.