I'm sensitive to lily smell- has anyone heard of this before?

hjihji(Vermont near NH)May 3, 2005

I don't mean to judge or critisize anyone for their love of lilies, but whenever I'm near lilies, the smell really bothers me a lot- it can even put me in a bad mood. I have to leave a room that has cut lilies in it.

Don't get me wrong- I'm not an unpleasant person, and I don't mind the look of lilies, but it's the smell I can't stand. I'm referring to things like Tiger Lilies, and the flowers you get a the florist- not daylilies.

Has anyone else experienced this? I'm wondering if it's some sort of allergy. Probably people who have experienced this wouldn't be reading a lily forum much, but I thought I'd ask anyway.



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funkydemon(6a/5b ON)

A friend of mine is really bothered by the scent of lilies. Not sure why, either, but she's really sensitive to smells. I think oriental lilies (frequently the kind you get at florists) might be overpowering for her. Don't know how fragrant Tiger lilies are.

I suggested asiatic lilies to her, as those are unscented. :-)

    Bookmark   May 3, 2005 at 2:28PM
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My wife can not stand scents of most flowers, including hyacinths and stargazers.

Tiger lilies are not fragrant .. maybe you are thinking of another one ??

Stargazers and casablanca are very common at flower shops.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2005 at 3:54PM
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I'm really sensitive to some flower smells also, any musk rose will give me a headache and make me feel sick, as well as blue jacket hyacinth. Everyone is wired differntly.

Different lillies smell very differntly as noted above, and I have no scent from my asiatics. You would probably be ok with non scented ones?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2005 at 6:44PM
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funkydemon(6a/5b ON)

Ken--all those lovely lilies you have, and your wife cannot enjoy all of them up close?

Poor woman. :-)

    Bookmark   May 3, 2005 at 8:13PM
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Nell Jean

My husband once had to leave a church service in a small sanctuary where wedding bouquets from the evening before had been left overnight and the fragrance of lilies was overpowering. Some people with respiratory problems or allergies can't stay in the room with lilies because of sensitivity.

The fragrance of trumpet lilies is overpowering up close. From a distance in the garden it's pleasant. Too close, they have a spicy medicinal smell similar to Noxema skin cream. I find asiatics to be virtually fragrance free and note little to no fragrance in most LA hybrids.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 1:08PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

I am allergic to the lillies up close. As long as they are outside and at a distance I find it pleasant and do not have the sneezing, runny eyes, headache problem.

I love the fragrance so I plant them at the back of the property.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2005 at 1:51AM
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Mvespa(Z6 NJ)

My husband can't stand them either, says it reminds him of funerals. It is a shame since I love lilies, especially orientals and trumpets. So when they are in bloom, he doesn't really look at them and complains that our yard stinks.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2005 at 3:02PM
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If there are no runny nose/ red eyes/ difficulties of breathing, probably it's not an allergy.

My guess: this is culture specific - things to which we were exposed since childhood and which were evaluated as good or perfectly normal.
I belong to subtle smells/sounds one, most scents added to the common things like laundry detergents or deodorants I feel totally intolerable in level - as beating drum on your head, or being in the presence of a loud-mouthed person.

Oriental lilies were considered not suitable to be put in the room because of the smell, causing headache. I grow them because of their beauty, but my personal tolerance distance is around 3 yrds/meters, otherwise I leave the area because of stench (sorry!).

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 12:54PM
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Most lillies are fine, but the smell of Stargazer Lillies is overpowering to me. Gives me a headache if they are anywhere but outside.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 5:44PM
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hld6(z7 MD)

Hi All,
For those who like some scent, but not too much, try "Elegant Lady". It has a very light tropical fruity fragrance (almost like a very light pineapple - mango type smell) - nothing like the strong spicey scent of orientals (which I personally am very fond of). It has a beautiful easter lily trumpet shape - its a Longiflorum x (Longiflorum x Rubellum) hybrid - with a silky pale pink with blueish highlights color. I got my bulbs from Brent and Becky's this Spring. (They don't have them in their Fall catalog - probably b/c they're not hardy in very cold regions.) The bulbs were not very expensive at B&B's and could be treated as an annual by those of you in the colder zones if you don't want to lift them each year.

They only grow 2.5' - 3' tall and bloom in June (mine are just finishing up). I put mine in the front of a garden bed with taller pale pink oriental lilies ("Aruba"?) behind them. You all would probably want a different tall plant, but I love strongly scented lilies. In fact my only complaint about my Elegant Lady is that I have to get too close to them to be able to smell them! :)


    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 6:30PM
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I find the smell of stargazer lilies HORRIBLE, i don't know how anyone can stand it. I am rather curious. But, no one else seemed disturbed by it. I thought it was undeniable..."obviously if they were smelling what I was smelling, they wouldn't like it." lol. But, therefore I was wondering if, like PTC Taste Paper, it was a genetic trait:

"PTC Tasting
Frequency: 75% can taste PTC; 25% cannot taste PTC
For some people (and some chimpanzees also), the chemical
PTC tastes very bitter. For others, it is tasteless. PTC is a
harmless compound that tastes bitter to those who have the
most frequent trait. Those with the less frequent trait do not
taste the bitterness."

-Univerity of Utah

I am rather curious about any other relations to reasoning. Even though there might not be any. :-)

    Bookmark   June 15, 2006 at 11:19PM
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Different people don't experience smell the same way. Some people can smell particles that others cannot. Some people's brains interpret smells differently. What smells delightful to me, obviously can be experienced and stinky to someone else. Taste is the same way. Scientists have known for a long time that there is an amino acid in peas that some people can taste and some cannot. To the people who can taste it, it is awful. This experience is not unusual. Like someone said above, we are all wired differently. Me? I LOVE the smell of lilies. They do not smell medicinal at all to me. They smell a lot like cloves and cinnamon. Go figure.


    Bookmark   June 18, 2006 at 11:27PM
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I LOVE the smell of lillies, but only this morning while changing the water in the vase containing them did I find out that I may have had an allergic reaction to lillies. When my son and daughter-in-law sent them to me for Mother's Day a few days ago I was thrilled! They weren't open yet so I had no allergic reaction. This morning they were fully open and smelling great! Minutes later, after I handled them my face started blowing up like a balloon, I became sore and raw around my mouth, and my eyes started "itching." Having had skin allergies before, I knew what to do. I had benedryl and benedryl lotion hanging around so I used that stuff plus "Clear Eye." My problem is not so much my reaction to the lilles, but - how am I going to tell my son and daughter-in-law not to send any more lilles???

    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 10:47AM
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I love flowers. I love big, beautiful bouquets of flowers, and usually don't have any problems with them at all. I'm the type of person who will reach down, touch and smell almost any flower - but I have always had problems with certain lilies.

Allow me to illustrate. A lady on our floor got 5 big bouquets of Stargazers last week. Fortunately, they were about 25 feet from my desk.

Day 1: my allergies took notice, but were manageable with my regular antihistamine dosage

Day 2: it hit me a little harder, but mostly manageable

Day 3: began having respiratory problems and itchy/watery eyes, and some lovely allergy shiners. had to take twice as much antihistamine.

Days 4-5: off for the weekend

Day 6: eyes became itchy, watery, dark, and swollen within the first half hour of work. I could not see. I started having great difficulty breathing (heavy wheezing), and I am not at all asthmatic. I had to keep wiping my nose and eyes dry. I had already taken a Zyrtec-D that morning, took a Claritin-D and a Benadryl after the problems began, and also sprayed some Flonase. Over an hour later, I could finally see and breathe well enough to go home.

So here I am, seriously wondering if I should go to work at all tomorrow. I don't think my body can take another assault.

I read that flowers release their pollen (or some kind of allergen) as they die. I do know for certain that I inhaled some kind of particle having to do with the flower because it caused me to start choking on Day 3. I will be seeing an allergist for the first time in my life next month. It will be interesting to see what he has to say.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 8:45PM
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A friend of mine came by my house, and in fact kept on pushing these Lillies bouquet further and further away from her because of their smell She saw as she was driving home that that the shirt she wore as well as her car seat is covered by some yellow stain I put two & two together and realized that it was the Pollen from these Stargazing Lillies that had stained the arms of her shirt, then her car seat.
I sure would like to be able to know what produce can be used to REMOVE THIS STAIN, mainly on her brand new car seatsÂ
Please let me know.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2010 at 6:31PM
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patouche911, this topic has been discussed here a number of times. I've attached a link that offers some options to try. Be aware that this is not an easy stain to remove :-)

FYI, piggybacking a different question onto an existing thread, and a rather dated one at that, is not considered proper 'netiquette', especially when the OP requested email follow-ups. And it generally does not generate the attention or responses it deserves or that are very helpful. It is always better to initiate a new thread with a new question. And it never hurts to do a search to see if the question has been addressed/answered previously.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 12:41PM
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I love Lilies and I grow all types but the smell of some of them its just too much. Sadly, I had to learn the hard way so no lilies in house, same goes for irises which I also grow. I was at grocery store that had a grouping of Easter lilies at the entrance, I thought I was going to pass out. Garden shows can sometimes be a nightmare because of the early blooming plants that are just overwhelming.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 5:26AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I love the smell of all lilies but had many customers complain when I was a florist.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 1:00PM
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I received a bouquet with star gazer lilies and I can't stand the smell. They give me a headache and are so potent that I can smell them even if they are in another room. Why do florists use this type of flower when they smell so bad? I love Easter Lilies as they have a very sweet smell. I am not allergic to any other type of flower.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 10:01PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Why? because those who think Star Gazers and other Orientals stink are in the minority.

They are extremely popular. At one point I was using them in almost every wedding. I don't know how many weddings I did with Casa Blancas for the bride and Star Gazers or other similarly colored Orientals for the bridesmaids.

Over the 23 years I was a florist I sold thousands of lilies. Most customers think they are all Star Gazers but there are many with similar coloring and smell.

There was always someone who would complain about the smell in person when they were shopping but I never received a phone call complaining after delivery.

They are expensive so usually the customer had to ask for them for them to be including in a delivered bouquet otherwise less expensive flowers would be used to give more show for the money.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 11:58AM
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I work for a mail order company in NZ that sells lillies bulbs in our Winter catalogue. I LOVE lilies and don't have a problem with them in the garden. However, sometimes at work we have a display of flowering Orientals in our small office and I get the itchy eyes everyone seems to be talking about, plus headache, runny nose, 'lumpy' throat and weird numbing sensation in my lips. Even when the blooms are removed the smell lingers which still causes the reactions. My bosses and workmates don't believe me and roll their eyes at my complaints. I'm glad to read in this forum that others experience similar troubles.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 4:28AM
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Aren't there two issues going on here?

1)dislike of the scent

2) allergy to the pollen

You can have one without the other.

I have stunted smell and taste and so strong smells and tastes--I like them! But even a roomful of oriental lilies are overpowering for me. I still fill my house with them, but I could see how they are too strong for many people.

The pollen is a different matter and unless someone keeps pulling off anthers as each flower opens, it's unlikely a bouquet of Orientals will suit someone with an allergy to them.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 10:53AM
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I got a beautiful star gazer from my daughter for Mothers day recently, and by evening I was very sick. eyes and nose running, breathing became hard, cough started and went down into the bronchial tubes, my air ways swelled up and by night I was scared. Had to go to the doctor and get meds. Its better now, but the poor lily is on the deck in its container. I'll ask somebody to plant it outside. Hate to tell my daughter what her present did to me.
What is the agent in this lily that can cause such illness?
when I was young, never had an allergy.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 10:15AM
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I disagree with the poster who says that the majority of people enjoy the scent of many lilies. The 12 story building where I work has banned them because there have been so many complaints of headaches and allergic reactions. Some of the local hospitals also ban them. I myself have an extreme allergy to them. I was hospitalized once because of an asthma attack brought on by stargazer lilies. Perhaps people don't call the florist to complain because they don't realize what is making them sick or they pull them out of the arrangement and throw them away.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2014 at 5:06PM
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I love both the aroma and appearance of stargazers; however, enough is enough. After one day I am over the aroma and out they or I go.
Paper whites same story.
Just gazing the catalogues and plan to purchase about 3 dozen stargazer and Casablanca bulbs. Wonder if the aroma is an addiction. I know the appearance is.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2015 at 5:06PM
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I think we all experience smells differently. Every book I have ever read about lilies says Lilium pyrenaicum smells unpleasant - but I like it. It reminds me of orange peel. I stop and smell mine every time I walk past them.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2015 at 2:54PM
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We mostly have Orienpet lilies that carry an amazing rich perfume. Though, a friend had given me a variety of martagon that is soooo sickly smelling that my stomach has actually heaved when I've stuck my nose into the flowers. Most martagons do not smell as such, but this one is nasty, though it does carry nicely colored blooms and named in honor of a friend, so we'll allow it to stay in the garden.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2015 at 9:10AM
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Re: allergy to lilies. Since the lillies in my lovely bouquet have opened I have become increasingly bad tempered for no reason! No swelling or itchiness. I love the smell but am finding my breath short and chest tight and the last couple of nights have been waking with bad palpitations. The flowers are in the kitchen and our two border collies are refusing to sleep in there since the lillies opened? I have taken out the centres but they still smell very strong. Is this just me (my husband thinks I'm an alien anyway) or has anyone else had these symptoms?

    Bookmark   February 20, 2015 at 5:02AM
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Burt Blood

I actively tracked this subject down because 4 days after mothers day i'm off work sick, i have a sore throat and swollen glands in my neck, my brother bought some lilies for my mum ( i don't know what type of liles they are but they are a deep purple colour ) for the first 2 days they were fine because they were still closed, but once they opened the scent was unbearable for me ( they were in the front window and i've been having to sleep in the living room for the time being ) My symptoms are typical of physical burn-out but my body has always reacted that way to over exposure to various things... excersize or being stuck too close to a heat source, lack of sleep. I'm sure that the lilies have played a major part in putting me out of action

    Bookmark   March 19, 2015 at 10:17AM
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