What Is the Meaning of a Tiger Lily Flower?

Updated November 21, 2016

Tiger lily flowers are bold, attractive and very easy to grow. Tiger lilies have been used in everything from decoration to medicine. The edible tiger lily is one of the most recognisable flowers in the lily family because of its distinct orange colour and spotted petal markings, which gave it its name. A tiger lily grows so easily, it may even be found in ditches throughout the United States.


Tiger lily flowers have dark orange petals, decorated with black or dark red spots. Native to Japan and China, tiger lily flowers bloom in late summer (July and August). The flowers grow in a pyramid-shaped cluster at the top of long stems. Tiger lilies are strongly scented and almost entirely edible. Tiger lily blooms may grow up to three inches wide.


Two types of tiger lilies are available: Oriental and Common Wildflower. The Oriental tiger lily grows from bulbs, while the common variety grows from tuberous roots. The tiger lily is known by many different names, and is often called "ditch lily" because it grows in ditches in the United States. The flower is also known as Devil lily, leopard lily, pine lily, Oregon lily and western red lily.


Tiger lilies are easy to grow, but there are some drawbacks to including this pretty flower in your garden. Tiger lilies can be disease-carriers, harming other types of lilies if planted too close to other species. The flowers may also be toxic to cats, causing kidney failure and worse. Tiger lily flowers grow in moist soil and cool temperatures and thrive even in poor soil. Tiger lilies do not need much protection in the winter, and grow well even in large clusters. The flowers will bloom every year once tiger lilies have taken root.

Significance in Health

Tiger lilies have been applied to medicinal purposes for many years. The plant has been used to treat nausea and uterine problems, including nausea arising from pregnancy. Other medical uses for the plant apply to mental health. Essence of tiger lily has been used to suppress aggressive behaviours.


The tiger lily plays a role in Asian myth. One legend holds that a man once aided a tiger by removing an arrow from its wounded body. The tiger died, but the friendship between the two created the tiger lily as a symbol of friendship. An old superstition says that smelling tiger lilies will create freckles. In the language of flowers, tiger lilies are said to symbolise wealth and prosperity. Tiger lily flowers are also thought to represent pride.

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About the Author

K. C. Morgan is a professional freelance writer, with articles and blog posts appearing on dozens of sites. During her years of writing professionally, K. C. has covered a wide range of topics. She has interviewed experts in several fields, including celebrated psychoanalyst Frances Cohen Praver, PhD; television personality and psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig; and entrepreneur Todd Reed.