Rare White Spider Lilies: Hymenocallis coronaria

This weekend we had the opportunity to visit a local property that is blessed with the very rare Hymenocallis coronaria. Most folks around here call them Shoal Spider Lilies, because they are growing in Flat Shoals Creek. In Alabama this plant is called Cahaba Lilies, named for the Cahaba River where they are growing. There are also some small colonies found growing in the Chattahoochee, Coosa, and Tallapoosa Rivers.

These lilies are a threatened native plant, found growing only in a few places in Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. 
Flat Shoals Lilies, as I call them, bloom only once a year. The blooms last 2 or 3 weeks, depending on the weather. This year, they bloomed a little later than normal because our winter was so reluctant to leave.

Hymenocallis coronaria is in the amaryllis family of plants. Large white blooms about 3 inches wide are quite showy and held above tall stems. Foliage is strappy, like a lily.

The Shoal Lilies grow in full sun in the fast-moving water of rivers and large creeks.

The flowers attract a variety of pollinators but are especially enjoyed by the Pipevine Swallowtail.

As with most threatened and endangered species, these lilies are threatened because of us people. The damming of rivers has caused the greatest threat, but pollution of the rivers caused by development, logging, and mining as well as poaching have also played a part in the reduction of Shoal Lily populations. Poaching is when an individual takes a plant or animal and sells it or uses it to his own advantage without consideration for the actual animal or plant itself. When a plant is listed on the threatened or endangered list, one should not dig it to take to his own garden or sell to others. This practice is wrong, and I believe it is punishable by law.

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