Flower Paw-er: A Springtime of Wild Cats

By Panthera

Puma and flowers

Spring is in the air! In the northern Hemisphere, that means warmer weather, blooming plants and wild animal offspring. Since new cubs and flowers are on full display at this time of year, we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate this year’s spring equinox than with some of the flowers named after wild cats.

Tiger Lily 
Tiger and tiger lily

Named after the biggest of the big cats, you may recognize this flower; it's as iconic as its namesake. Covered with spots but not stripes, this flower is native to East Asia — just like tigers! Unlike tigers, though, they are widespread and even grow in the United States. Tigers, on the other hand, are listed as Endangered by the IUCN.

Lion’s Ear
Lion and lion's ear

Looking for the second-largest big cat in the wild? They may be hard to find, but you may find this plant named after it instead. The lion’s ear is a perennial plant native to — you guessed it — southern Africa. Panthera has programs in both Zambia and South Africa dedicated to protecting wild cats like lions — so we may be protecting lion’s ears alongside actual lion ears! 

Leopard Lily
Leopard and leopard lily

See the spots on this flower? The leopard lily, also known as the blackberry lily, resembles its namesake with spots alongside its richly colored petals. You won't mistake them for a jaguar's spots, as people commonly do between the two big cats.

Oceloxochitl/Tigridia and jaguar/tiger

This flower genus is actually named after two wild cats. This plant native to the Americas is, of course, named after tigers. But the Aztecs referred to it as oceloxochitl, which means “jaguar-like”. 

These are just a few of the many plants that bear wild animal names. Make sure to protect flora alongside wild fauna like big cats. Big cat prey eat plants — so flowers, grasses, bushes and trees are just as important to wild cats as the water they drink and the air they breathe