M. G. Henry, Bartonia. 24: 2. 1947.
Bulbs rhizomatous, often branching, 1.4—2.9 × 9.6—18 cm, 0.1—0.3 times taller than long, 3—4 years' growth evident as annual bulbs, older growth often with perpendicular thin branches leading to small new bulbs and always with noticeable abscission scars, youngest 3 years' growth bearing basal leaves, scaleless sections between annual bulbs 2.7—5.4 cm; scales unsegmented, longest 1—2 cm; stem roots present or absent. Stems to 2 m. Buds ± triangular in cross section. Leaves in 1—5 whorls or partial whorls, 3—10 leaves per whorl, ascending, sometimes only slightly, or occasionally ± horizontal and drooping slightly at tips, 3.1—15.7 × 0.5—3.6 cm, 2.1—9.3 times longer than wide; blade weakly to sometimes narrowly oblanceolate, occasionally obovate, elliptic, or narrowly elliptic, margins not undulate, apex acute, acuminate in distal leaves; central vein in particular impressed adaxially, veins and margins often somewhat roughened abaxially with tiny ± deltoid epidermal spicules. Inflorescences umbellate or rarely racemose, 1—4-flowered. Flowers pendent, not fragrant; perianth Turk's-cap-shaped; sepals and petals reflexed less than 1/5 along length from base, yellow-orange or yellow, sometimes orange-yellow, often suffused with red distally, spotted maroon, often nearly to apex, not distinctly clawed, nectaries exposed, forming visible green star; sepals with 2 parallel, often faint abaxial ridges, 6.2—10.2 × 1.1—1.8 cm; petals 6.1—10 × 1.2—2.2 cm; stamens strongly exserted; filaments parallel along much of length, then widely spreading, diverging 14°—31° from axis; anthers magenta, 1—1.6 cm; pollen rust or sometimes rust-orange; pistil 4.7—6.8 cm; ovary 1.5—2.5 cm; style very pale green, often spotted purple near apex; pedicel 10—23 cm. Capsules 2.5—5 × 1.7—3 cm, 1.2—2.2 times longer than wide. Seeds not counted.
Flowering summer (late Jul--late Aug). Streamsides, bogs, and seeps in wet pine woodlands, hardwood baygall scrub, wet roadside ditches, associated with pitcher plants (Sarracenia spp.); of conservation concern; 0--100 m; Ala., Fla.
As its vernacular name indicates, the panhandle lily is restricted to a small area in the western Florida panhandle and adjacent Alabama, where it has been much reduced in number by land-clearing for pasture and housing. It is now under consideration for federal protection.
Lilium iridollae is allopatrically distributed with its close relative L. superbum, though the latter occurs within 40 miles of the northernmost populations of the panhandle lily. Blooming times are staggered, L. iridollae typically starting to bloom as L. superbum is finishing. Diagnostic features include the usually brighter flower color, less numerous, shorter, noticeably though subtly oblanceolate leaves in five or fewer whorls (L. superbum has six or more), and few flowers, as well as very long rhizomes with basal leaves, as much as four years' visible growth, and extended scaleless sections between the annual growth bulbs. Lilium iridollae is pollinated by all the larger swallowtail butterflies within its limited range, especially the spicebush (Papilio troilus Linnaeus, family Papilionidae), eastern tiger (Papilio glaucus, Linnaeus), and palamedes [Papilio palamedes (Drury)].