Non-tunicate or scaly bulbs lack the papery tunicate found in tunicate bulbs like tulip.

The non-tunicate bulb consists of separate "scales" attached at the basal plate.

Illustration of a non-tunicate bulb on the outside and a cross section. The cross section has the following parts identified: basal plate, leaves, flowering shoot of mother bulb (post season), new daughter scales (next season), old mother scales (past season), growing point of daughter bulb for next season flower, contractile basal roots.

In general, non-tunicate bulbs are easily damage and must be handled more carefully than tunicate bulbs.

Scales are modified leaves and these can be removed and handled as leaf cuttings where they form new bulbs at the cut surface of the scale.

Photo of a lily bulb.


Lily bulbs display two types of root systems. Adventitious roots develop from the new stem and act to absorb water and nutrients.

Contractile roots develop from the base of the bulb. Contractile roots function to readjust the depth of the bulb in the soil.

By shrinking and expanding the contractile roots pull the bulb to the proper depth in the soil.

Photo of a lily bulb with fleshy contractile roots identified, and fibrous adventitious roots which will form along the emerging stem also identified.