The Easter Lily Capital of the World Sits Right Here in Northern California

The Easter Lily make a great centerpiece to any Easter dinner surrounded by family and friends. And it’s very likely they were grown right here in Northern California.

The fertile land in Smith River, California, sitting in the very northwest corner of California, is home to less than 900 residents, but roughly 95 precent of the world’s Easter lilies. In fact, five farms owned by four families in the area grow around 14 million Easter lilies each year.

Easter lilies grow on the Palmer Westbrook, Inc., Easter lily farm in the small town of Smith River, California. (Credit Image: Robin Loznak)

Easter lilies are a native plant of Japan, but it was in 1919 when Louis Houghton began planting the flower just south of the Oregon border. When World War II started, the Easter lilies from Japan were no longer being imported, giving Houghton an incredible opportunity.

By 1945, the 600 acre area near Smith River had taken the lead in worldwide production of the plant. Today, the small town still reigns supreme as the Easter Lily Capital of the World.

While the Easter Lily looks tropical, it is very much a staple of Northern California. So if you have some Easter lilies as your centerpiece on Easter Sunday, you are truly supporting local business.

Active NorCal

Northern California's Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine

11 Comments

  1. The article mentions buying Easter Lilies to support local business. But there always a downside.
    Local residents in Smith River have been trying for years to get the state to limit chemical fertilizers and weedkiller and other effluent from Lily farms that have contaminated local wells.
    The flowers are pretty, but they should be grown in a way that does not pollute the local watershed, the estuary for which is the outlet of the state’s most important wild and scenic river.

  2. I need to tell you I am the Daughter of the man who started the Easter Lily Capital. He was Swedish and entered the Navy by mistake after he had pneumonia on a Merchant ship from Denmark when he ran away from home as a Swede with sailing experience. They left him in New York and he had $100 in his pocket and when he recovered he set out to California for a more lucrative job on a Merchant ship to a Yokohama run. To But he could only say Hamburger and Ketchup and ended up in the Navy Line in San Francisco. The US Navy said because you have experience as a helmsman we will make you a Citizen when on board of the Jeep Carrier, The Gambier Bay.a book Called “ the Men of The Gambier Bay” was written and my most valuable book. They were blown out of the Bay of Lady Gulf by Japanese gunfire and my Dad survived 3 days in shark infested waters to come to Klamath Falls to join a Swedish Club and meet my Mom and Marry. I was born in 1944 and in 1945 he came to Brookings and developed a multimillion $ business that served bulbs Nationwide for Easter. Many other people tried to compete.But Dad had to move to a bigger property for expansion. It was called Dahlstrom and Watt, the original developers and that name still runs that business in Smith River., California. You can still see this on Google. It is owned by the Miller family after my Dad retired. I’m very proud to this day I can buy a D&W plant at BiMart for less than Fred Meyers in Brookings,OR. and have 2 stalks. I was represented on Garden America riding on the tractor with my Dad at 12. Worked in the fields with my Dad all of my Childhood and all of my school mates in High School had a job every summer and still talk about it and it was in the 50-60’s. I’m 77 and still have life long time friends from that time. We were raised as achievers,

    1. Beautiful story I think that you have a wonderful bit of history in your childhood like out of a story book

  3. This is incorrect data, Palmer and his Brother Chopper and Hank Westbrook were Silent Partners when my Dad and Cecil Watt joined in the Corporation.

    1. Hi, Palmer Westbrook( now deceased) was not a brother to Hank nor Chopper Westbrook, they were thirth cousins .

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