Chinese Sacred Lily

July 10, 2017

Categories: Displays & Specialty Exhibits, General

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I have known about the Chinese Sacred Lily for some time. I am giving a prestigious lecture on bulbs and have delved into literature and art for the talk, deciding as part of the talk to use the daffodil as art.
I believe it is thought that Marco Polo took Roman and Israeli tazettas to China. They became sacred and have turned into an art form. Go to Chinese Sacred Lily for some photos.
If we could learn the skill a bulb design class would be a wonderful addition to our schedule.


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12 Responses to Chinese Sacred Lily

  1. Bill Welch, California
    July 10, 2017 at 8:01 am

    Hi David,

    It pre-dates Marco Polo as there are drawings of it (and its double form, which by the way, we Westerners also know as one of the two forms we have of Double Roman) in China dating from 850 A.D.

    The identical single and double duo occur in numerous other places, among them Vale of Kashmir and Iran (where it is known as “Shiraz”, after the area in which it is grown commercially for the flowers).

    Best wishes,

    Bill the Bulb Baron (William R.P. Welch)

  2. Ian Tyler, England
    July 10, 2017 at 8:17 am

    It is my understanding that to produce the ” art work” daffodil bulbs with
    offsets are pulled apart or cut out! Destroying the bulbs, is this
    something that National Daffodil Society’s should be promoting
    It’s just a thought!


  3. Vijay Chandhok, Pennsylvania
    July 10, 2017 at 9:04 am

    Bill Welch,
    I grew up in Vale of Kashmir, and these were common in the area.

    Sent from my iPhone

  4. Mary Lou Gripshover, Ohio
    Mary Lou Gripshover, Ohio
    July 10, 2017 at 9:20 am

    Dave, if you want a further description of the ” bulb carving,” go to and go to the December 1981 issue of The Daffodil Journal.  There’s an article by Sheldon Tom about “Honolulu’s 33rd festival . . .” and at the very end, on p.77, there’s a bit on culture, and it includes carve culture.  I thought there was also a leaflet that described the process more thoroughly, but couldn’t find it.

  5. Kirby Fong, California
    Kirby Fong, California
    July 10, 2017 at 8:46 pm

    I think the leaflet Mary Lou mentions was what Sheldon Tom sent us to leave on the table at the 2000 Portland convention.  It’s bilingual – in English and Chinese.  It has some photos showing the carving of the bulb in addition to photos of artistic designs.  I have only one copy of the leaflet.  Perhaps we should have it scanned and added to DaffLibrary. It’s 4-color printing, 57 cm wide and 21 cm high.

  6. David Adams, New Zealand
    July 10, 2017 at 9:22 pm

    Good idea Kirby. Some of the designs are amazing.

  7. Mary Lou Gripshover, Ohio
    Mary Lou Gripshover, Ohio
    July 11, 2017 at 5:47 am

    Yes, I agree, we should definitely get it scanned.  My scanner can’t handle anything bigger than 8 x 11 inches.  Can you take it to Staples or some other office supply store to get it scanned, Kirby?  Good idea.


  8. Jan Pennings, the Netherlands
    July 13, 2017 at 12:48 am

    Dear David, I wrote an article about the Chinese Sacred Lily in Daffodil and Tulip Yearbook 2014.They had organized a Lily and Daffodil symposium and I was invited to give a lecture. A very interested trip.. We had discussions about; What is the areage they grow there? difficult to explane to me but what I think approx. 500 hectare what is 1250 acres. I am still in close contact with the people overthere and hope to visit them soon again. Hope all is well in NZ in Holland we are now very busy with digging the daffodils.Kind regards Jan Pennings

  9. Bill Welch, California
    July 13, 2017 at 7:12 am

    Hi Jan,

    Have the Chinese managed to raise any new varieties of Chinese Sacred Lily through hybridizing or other techniques? Did you get a chance to see them?

    Articles from China always seem to present it as sterile due to triploidy but I have found otherwise: When you visit there again you can tell them I have managed to produce seed by crossing pollen of other tazettas onto the normal triploid Chinese Sacred Lily and raised offspring which have obvious proof that their ancestry is as recorded.

    If there are any breeders there who are interested in further contact with me about this please pass along my contact information below.


    Best wishes,

    Bill the Bulb Baron (William R.P. Welch)


    William R.P. Welch, 1031 Cayuga Street, Apt B, Santa Cruz, CA 95062, USA (831) 236-8397

  10. David Adams, New Zealand
    July 15, 2017 at 2:47 am

    Two things prompted by your note in Daffnet. Yes I did read your article in the journal.
    Last night I gave a lecture on the topic ‘ The Story of Bulbs’ using literature, drama and Art as part of it. Several of my illustrations were from your property and Keukenhof. A number of people spoke after, remembering your lecture in Christchurch. Others visited this year.

    All is well here and a wettish winter is helping our flowers to develop well.


  11. Suzy Wert, Indiana
    July 15, 2017 at 3:03 am

    I looked into the crab claw method last year, thinking I might add it to the ADS fall show schedule. After looking at demonstrations, in Chinese, on You Tube, I offered it to IDS as a little workshop, but nobody was very interested.
    If you google “you tube crab claw sacred lily” you’ll see tons and tons of demonstrations.
    I understand the real ones used for good luck in China are usually purchased pre-carved by professional bulb carvers. They are considered good luck if you can get them to bloom on New Years Day.

  12. Jolene Laughlin, Louisiana
    July 15, 2017 at 8:50 am


    Fred Silcock saw these and thought it would make a neat article for the Journal. He ordered a copy of a “how to” book for me. It’s step by step from prepping the bulbs to choosing the container to grow them in, but I have very little confidence in my ability to do this successfully. I would be happy to mail the book to you for you to try the experiment – in exchange for an article documenting your experience of course 🙂

    Let me know!

    Sent from my iPhone