The Michigan lily, Lilium michiganense Farw., is indigenous to North America. Although distributed over a broad geographical area east of the Mississippi River, the species is in decline as a result of habitat destruction, human removal, and deer predation. It is listed as threatened in Tennessee and endangered in New York. Lilium michiganense is most closely related to Lilium canadense L., which also occurs broadly over eastern North America yet is also in decline as a result of the same pressures. Lilium canadense is listed as rare in Indiana, vulnerable in New York, and threatened in Rhode Island and Tennessee. The close relationship of these two taxa is supported by natural interspecific hybrids reported from Ohio and New York (Adams and Dress, 1982).
Lilium michiganense is quite attractive with its whorled foliage and orange turkscap flowers gracefully arranged in a loose inflorescence atop stems to 2.0 m. However, it is rarely cultivated as a result of its more exacting cultural requirements, propagation difficulties, and slow growth to maturity from seed in comparison with more commonly cultivated lilies. Although it has been artificially hybridized with L. canadense, L. michauxii (McRae, 1998), and perhaps a few other taxa, no selected forms or hybrids from this species seem to currently be in cultivation. The senior author (JRA) is using this species along with other North American lily taxa to develop selections or hybrids more amenable to garden cultivation. Some of the research tools being used in this germplasm improvement program include embryo/ovule rescue from wide interspecific crosses, polyploid induction, and in vitro propagation. These studies depend on effective tissue culture protocols. There appears to be only one previously published report on the tissue culture of this taxon (Mori et al., 2005). Therefore, shoot, root, and callus induction were examined in L. michiganense in response to treatment with four auxin-type plant growth regulators (PGRs) in anticipation of developing further tissue culture protocols with this and its closely related taxa.
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