Help bring back the Cullowhee lily by planting bulbs

out lilyAn effort to re-establish the Cullowhee lily on the Western Carolina University campus gets under way this fall with a fundraising drive, a bulb sale and ceremonial planting in the Centennial Garden.

A white flower with six petals formally called the Zephyranthes atamasco, the Cullowhee lily once common at Western Carolina now grows in only a few spots on campus. Some speculate the water-loving plant began to disappear from the Cullowhee region when the low valley wetlands were drained first for farm use then later during construction. The proliferation of aggressive kudzu along the river banks may have been another factor in the disappearance of the non-competitive lily.

The first bulbs to be planted on campus will be in the Centennial Garden, located near the curve in the road above the Central Plaza fountain. A ceremonial planting will be held Homecoming weekend at the garden at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6.

The bulbs will be sold Sept. 29-Oct. 31 at businesses including Bryson Farm Supply and Country Road Farms Nursery & Garden Center in Sylva, Ray’s Florist & Greenhouse in Dillsboro and Tuckasegee Trading Co. in Cullowhee.

In addition, bulbs will be available at Cullowhee lily information booths at WCU on Mountain Heritage Day on Saturday, Sept. 29; before the Homecoming football game Saturday, Oct. 6, and before the football game against Appalachian State Saturday, Oct. 27.

Supporters of the Cullowhee lily initiative who give a $50 donation toward planting and maintaining a lily bed on campus and supporting the WCU Alumni Scholarship Fund will be honored as charter members of the Cullowhee Lily Society. Those who donate $250 will receive a framed limited edition and numbered photo of the Cullowhee lily printed on canvas and signed by Chancellor David O. Belcher.

The Cullowhee lily committee will also sell, while supplies last, a package of the hard-to-come-by bulbs for $10 to those interested in planting the Cullowhee lily, with proceeds supporting ongoing care for the plants at WCU and the WCU

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