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The white lily stands for purity. Artists for centuries have pictured the angel Gabriel coming to the virgin Mary with a spray of lilies in his hand, to announce that she is to be the mother of God's son.
Lily is the family name of about 2000 species of plants; most are herbs. The family includes onion, asparagus, and tulip. The name comes from a group of perennials of the genus Lilium, often called true lilies. Of the 80 or 90 species known, about 24 are native to North America, 50 to Asia, and 12 to Europe.
True lilies have undergroup bulbs made of overlapping scales which contain stored food. Their flowers, with the exception of rare doube forms, have three sepals and three petals so nearly alike that all six are often called petals. The blossoms grow at the top of a leafy stalk. They are of many colours and shapes. Among the most beautiful are the Madonna Lily, the Turk's-cap, the Tiger lily, Coral lily, and the Speciosum lily.
Lilies have served as food for humans in many countries. The ancient Greeks and Romans used some kinds of lilies in making certain salves and ointments. Lilies appeared as pottery decorations, paintings, and in other forms of art hundreds of years ago. Species from many lands are cultivated in a number of countries. From them, plant growers have developed popular hybrids and varities of many colours and shapes, suited to different climates and uses. In most of the United States, lilies bloom in almos every colou, except blue. They can be grown from early summer to frost. Some kinds are grown as house plants. Many are raised each year in commercial greenhouses, especially for Easter.
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