What Do Lily Bulbs Look Like?

Updated July 19, 2017

A flower bulb is a storage mechanism for a plant. A bulb contains a bud that will eventually grow and flower, as well as the food the growing plant will need. Most bulbs, including lily bulbs, can be identified by their appearance.


The short, slender stem roots at the base of a bulb take in water and nutrients from the soil, the long, thick basal roots do the same and also anchor the plant. All lily bulbs have basal roots but some species do not have stem roots.


Lily bulb scales are thick and fleshy and resemble the base of a leaf. Lily bulbs store nutrients in these overlapping scales.

Concentric Type

A concentric lily bulb is shaped somewhat like a globe. Its scales grow from the bottom of the bulb.

Stoloniferous Type

Stoloniferous lily bulbs produce stolons, or runners. The plant produces new bulbs at the ends of the stolons, often at some distance from the older bulb.

Rhizomatous Type

Rhizomatous lily bulbs have shorter stolons than stoloniferous bulbs. This causes the new bulbs to form in a cluster around the original bulb.


Lily bulbs range in colour from white to purple. The colour of the bulb depends on the species of the lily.

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Sarah Elliot began writing in 2002, providing website content, blogs and personal advice. She is a human services professional and also has a background in the areas of health, fashion and horticulture. Elliot holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and a Master of Arts in counseling.