Casablanca Lilies, Again

Lilium‘Casa Blanca’ is an Oriental hybrid with large white scented flowers. A popular cut flower, Yves Saint Laurent is said to have had a fresh vase of these lilies every day.

Yves Saint Laurent creates a new source of addiction: Belle d’Opium.

The new addiction by Yves Saint Laurent. A woman full of ambivalence, elusive and obsessive, powerful and troubling, ingenue but dangerous. Her perfume, a disconcertingly bewitching new oriental. An overdose of rare and precious ingredients: the narcotic scent of Casablanca Lily blends with spicy swirling Incense and mysterious overtones of a Nargileh accord.

I’m not addicted to the perfume; in fact, I’ve never tried it. I am addicted to the Casablanca Lily. This is my second blog post on the subject: I made a painting of the lily and posted it in 2012. I’m pleased to say that this summer there were 4 (four!) of these lilies blooming in my garden. They look delicate, but they are actually quite robust, with strong stems that stand upright and display the large flowers to best advantage.



250px-Lillium_StamensI don’t know where, when or by whom Casablanca was hybridized, but it must have been prior to 1933, when it was included in Dreer’s Garden Book. The bulbs are widely available and are not terribly expensive – generally less than $4 per bulb. The fragrance is just as wonderful as Belle d’Opium is advertised to be. Perhaps more wonderful, as a “nargilah” is better known to us as a “hookah”. Casablanca lilies certainly do not smell at all smoky.

The diagram at left is from a long article on the genus Lilium and shows the parts of the flower.

Casablanca Lily

“Casablanca Lily II”, watercolour, 11″ x 13″