Lily effort takes root around WCU

out lilyAn effort to re-establish a favorite local flower while also growing a scholarship fund at Western Carolina University is off to a blooming start.


Sales of Cullowhee lily bulbs and note cards, along with memberships into the Cullowhee Lily Society, have generated more than $6,000 so far for the WCU Alumni Scholarship Fund. The fund will provide annual, need-based support to a current WCU student with close ties to alumni.

“WCU alumni and the local community have rallied around this special initiative. Their response has been outstanding,” said Marty Ramsey, alumni affairs director.

The effort to re-establish the Cullowhee lily on campus, and in the region, began to take shape last spring. This fall, bulbs and note cards were available for purchase at events on campus and at local establishments, helping to fund the scholarship as well as maintenance of lily flowerbeds on campus.

The Cullowhee lily was once common at Western Carolina but now grows in only a few spots on campus. Some speculate the water-loving plant began to disappear from the Cullowhee region when the valley wetlands were drained for farm use and later for construction. The proliferation of aggressive kudzu along the riverbanks also may have been another factor in the disappearance of the lily.

The bulbs and note cards are also sold through local retailers for $10 each. They can be found at Bryson Farm Supply and Country Road Farms Nursery & Garden Center in Sylva, Ray’s Florist & Greenhouse in Dillsboro and Tuckasegee Trading Co. in Cullowhee. Planting information for the bulbs is included in the package. But, supplies are limited.

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