Lily White

Aah, the beautiful Lily……….

‘The modest Rose puts forth a thorn,

The humble sheep a threat’ning horn:

While the Lily white shall in love delight,

Nor a thorn nor a threat stain her beauty bright.’

(William Blake 1757 – 1827)

Lilies have been cultivated for over 3000 years. Feng Shui believers hold the lily as an emblem of summer and abundance; to the Chinese, lily mean ‘Forever in love’. The lily was the holy flower of the ancient Assyrians. While lilies come in a variety of colours, most people associate lilies with white, symbolizing purity. In Greek poetry, the lily stood for tenfderness. It was also referred to as the voice of cicadas or of the muses. There is a Greek myth that tells us how the lily was born from the milk of the godess Hera. The lily symbolises pure, virginal love in the Christian world.

Skiathos is home to one particular variety, the ‘Pancratium maritimum’,  more commonly known as the ‘Sea Lily’ (or Sea Daffodil). It can be found, not in profusion, but in relatively small numbers on Skiathos Island – and then in only a few particularly isolated areas, namely near the beaches, as this beautiful delicate white flower needs a particular micro climate in order to survive and propagate. It requires free-draining sandy soil (like all lilies it cannot withstand having it’s roots in water) and thrives particularly only on the salty breeze of sea air.

This beautiful wild lily once grew in profusion all over the island, but just as elsewhere throughout the Mediterranean, today, with the rise in tourist related development, its numbers, sadly, have greatly depleted. So much so that it is now classed as a ‘threatened  species’ worldwide.It will however, become an ‘endangered’ one very soon, if appropriate steps are not taken now.

‘Oh what would the world be, once bereft

Of wet and wildness? Let them be left,

O let them be left. wildness and wet;

Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet’

(‘Inversnaid’ by Gerald Manley Hopkins 1844 – 1889)

Local resident, passionate historian and wildlife/nature lover, Anna Delyianni:

(who knows just about all there is to know about the flora and fauna of the island – and as curator of the Museum at Evangelistria Monastery is a veritable mine of information!) brought this to the attention of our local Conservation and Protection Society:

As a result, she, with organiser Theo Tzoumas (L), members and volunteers:

including yours truly:

sprang in to action to ensure this beautiful, delicate flower is given the maximum opportunity for survival. They staged a very special event today:

small fences  were erected around areas on the beaches of Koukounaries, Aghi Eleni and Mandraki  – some of the few remaining sites where the lilies are presently found. Informative signs were also put up, requesting that the public respect and protect them as much as possible; inviting them to seek out and identify further, isolated areas this beautiful flower might be found. Here are a few more photos of the day’s events:

To find out more, and, if your are interested in conservation and would like to join/help the society (everyone is welcome!), please  visit:
And if you’re ever fortunate to find yourself, stretched on a sunbed, on one of Skiathos’ incredible beaches:

enjoying the natural beauty of your surroundings:

Just remember who you have to thank:

‘Cheers, Anna!’

(And Teo & the rest of the team of course!)

‘Where flowers bloom so does hope.’
–  Lady Bird Johnson,

4 thoughts on “Lily White

  1. My husband & I will be visiting Skiathos for the 2nd time from 13 to 26 September, and I am so much looking forward to it! Is there events during this time, that you can recommend we can attend?


    • Hello Engela! Thanks for getting in touch. I’ve just sent you an email with some details and links. Safe journey and I hope you have a wonderful time (it’s usually even better 2nd time round!). Best wishes, Yvonne x


  2. A big well done to Anna for recognising it’s importance. Skiathos is so beautiful and the fauna and wildlife is amazing. Often people don’t realise the loss of things until they are gone…Invariably plants/habitats not only stand alone in their beauty but support some other form of wildlife too.
    And, of course it is a very beautiful flower…so very worthy of protection 🙂
    Big Cheers to all of you 😀
    Also hugs to you Yvonne, hope you are well?


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