Easter is almost here, and there’s only one flower that can really capture the sacred spirit of the holiday: the Easter lily! The pure white color of this blossom has long symbolized the purity, hope and new life of spring, and its beautiful trumpet shape makes it the perfect herald for the fresh new season. So it’s no wonder it’s become one of the most popular blooms to decorate homes and churches with during this time of year. But how did this pretty little flower come to be associated with (and even named after) Easter? Here’s the full history of the Easter lily, for you to read while you dress up your home in its Sunday best!
How the Easter Lily Came to the U.S.
The Easter lily was officially discovered in 1777 by Swedish naturalist Carl Peter Thunberg in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. After its discovery, the flower made its way to England in 1819 and then arrived at Bermuda in the mid-1800s. It was then named the “Bermuda lily,” but its name was eventually changed to “Easter lily” when the spring-blooming flower was brought to Philadelphia and popularized there as an Easter blossom. A virus destroyed the Easter lily’s production on the island of Bermuda, making Japan the flower’s largest producer once again.
It wasn’t until World War I that the Easter lily started being produced in the United States. When soldier Louis Houghton first saw the flower, he was so captivated by it that he brought a suitcase full of bulbs back to his home state of Oregon in 1919. Houghton started handing out the lilies to his friends, who also happened to be horticulture experts.
As a result, large-scale production of the flower spread across the West Coast of the U.S., and by 1945 more than 1,000 growers in Oregon and California were producing the bulbs, earning the region the title of “Easter Lily Capitol of the World.” Today, Oregon and California grow 95 percent of all Easter lilies. Easter lilies are now one of the most popular potted plants in the U.S., ranking with poinsettias, mums and azaleas. Continue Reading…