Lilium Pardalinum

Leopard Lily


Stacked tall like a staircase.

Spotted like a wildcat,

And curled up with a downward face.

Thriving in the damp chaparral.

Small in size yet ferociously marked,

Intensely orange and native to SoCal.


Pardalinum is a subspecies of the leopard lily. All five subspecies are native from Oregon to Southern California. The subspecies include: pardalinum, pitkinense (rare), shastense, vollmeri, and wigginsii.
In other words: Leopard lily, Pitkin Marsh lily (endangered), Shasta lily, Vollmer’s lily, and Wiggins’ lily. All are in the family: liliaceae.

Also referred to as Tiger lily or Panther lily, this flower can grow up to 8 feet tall in wet soil. They are found along coastal California ranges and in forests of the Sierra Nevada. These beauties should be viewed but not picked in order to prevent their populations from declining in the wild. Leopard lilies are definitely not drought tolerant and are sometimes deer food.
While painting flowers, I like to have a balance between identifiable features and personal interpretation. Since I’ve started this journey of painting my way through California flora, I’m discovering so much information after I’ve already begun painting. For instance, some are not even native or there are so many types of one flower and each one can have extreme or such subtle differences that it’s hard to tell if I’ve even been painting the right one. But I’m learning. And with every bit of information I store in my brain, I get more passionate about the journey.

I can’t wait to see this flower in person. It is one of my favorites to draw. There are thousands of photographic depictions of these flowers wherever you go to find them and illustrated leopard lilies are often beautiful. But nothing beats falling in love with a photo and then seeing the real thing right in front of your eyes. How cheesy would it be to say that it might be like seeing a celebrity in real life? I don’t think that would be too far off. When that day comes, I’m going to take a thousand of my own photos and share them with you. Not to compete with the other thousands, but to prove that I was actually close enough to experience one with my other four senses. Maybe I’ll even take a selfie with it and get an autograph.