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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Saturday - September 03, 2011

From: Columbia, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Propagation, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Propagation of Cahaba lily from Columbia TN
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My cahaba lilies have so many seed pods. I would like to use the seeds properly to grow more lilies. Can anyone tell me the best way to go about it? Thank you

ANSWER:

Although Hymenocallis coronaria, Cahaba Lily, is apparently native to North America, that is, native to major river systems of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, we did not find it in our Native Plant Database. This is a work in progress and we continue to add to it as we can. From The Encyclopedia of Alabama on Cahaba Lily, we learned:

"The Cahaba lily (Hymenocallis coronaria) is an aquatic flowering plant native to the major river systems of Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. A type of spiderlily belonging to the amaryllis family, the Cahaba lily is noted for the striking beauty of its three-inch-wide white flowers. The lily requires a very specialized habitat—swift-flowing water over rocks and lots of sun—and thus is restricted to shoal areas at or above the fall line. In Alabama, the Cahaba lily is restricted to the Black Warrior, Cahaba, Coosa, Tallapoosa, and Chattahoochee river systems. Plant bulbs and seeds spend the winter buried in the rocky riverbed. There the water's current securely wedges the seeds and bulbs into the rock crevices. Leaves begin to emerge above the water line in mid-April, following the spring floods (dates are approximately two weeks later in eastern Georgia and South Carolina). Flower stalks develop after the leaves are fully emerged, with each stalk capped by six to nine buds surrounded by protective casings called bracts. Flowering commences in mid-May, reaching its peak in late May and early June, with sporadic flowering until late June."

In the first place, Tennessee is not mentioned in the habitats of this lily. In the second place, it appears the plant arranges its own propagation, thank you very much. If your seeds are not dropping into a swift current with rocks at the bed of the river that will trap the seeds and bulbs, they will probably not germinate.

Pictures of Cahaba Lily

 

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