En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - October 09, 2013

From: Rosharon, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Hymenocallis caroliniana and Hymenocallis liriosme Differences
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

A couple of years ago a neighbor gave me three huge bulbs of a type unknown to her. They fit the description of a spider lily. In attempts to identify it I found Hymenocallis liriosme and Hymenocallis caroliniana. Their descriptions are very similar. Can you point out the difference(s) between Hymenocallis liriosme and Hymenocallis caroliniana?

ANSWER:

Congratulations on being the recipient of some interesting pass-along bulbs.

Here is a summary of the spiderlily bulb characteristics.

Hymenocallis caroliniana (Carolina spiderlily) 

1.5-2.5 ft tall, fragrant, spider-like blooms up to 7 inches across in clusters up to 6 on a leafless stalk. Blooming March – September. Dormant in the summer.
Leaves pale green, shiny and up to 2 feet long.

Hymenocallis liriosme (spring spiderlily)

1-3 ft tall, fragrant, spider-like blooms up to 7 inches across in clusters of 2-3 blooms on a leafless stalk. Petals form a tube 2-4 inches long. Blooming February to May.
Leaves shiny and up to 30 inches long, 1 inch wide. 

Now the differences: Look at blooming time and the number of flowers in each cluster (on a mature plant) to tell the two species apart.
A posting by J. E. Shields on the Pacificbulbsociety.org forum describes how to tell the two species apart quite well. "Hymenocallis occidentalis (now the accepted name for H. caroliniana) normally blooms in late summer. This may be after the leaves have already died back. It's sister species, Hymenocallis liriosme, blooms in spring  with the first flush of leaves."

The Pacific Bulb Society also have a webpage with many of the Hymenocallis species listed and pictures of the two species. And the Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder website has a good description of the two bulbs Hymenocallis lirioseme and H. caroliniana.

 

From the Image Gallery


Northern spiderlily
Hymenocallis occidentalis var. occidentalis

Northern spiderlily
Hymenocallis occidentalis var. occidentalis

Northern spiderlily
Hymenocallis occidentalis var. occidentalis

Spring spider lily
Hymenocallis liriosme

Spring spider lily
Hymenocallis liriosme

Spring spider lily
Hymenocallis liriosme

More Wildflowers Questions

How will winter weather affect bluebonnets this year?
February 27, 2010 - Just wondering how our winter weather this year will affect the blooming of bluebonnets. When are they expected to be in full bloom and what will be their duration? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

More on bluebonnets
March 23, 2005 - When (month and week) do you think the "peak of bluebonnet blooming" will be this year in the Austin, Fredericksbug, and Llano, Texas area?
view the full question and answer

Bluebonnets in Hampton VA?
July 12, 2014 - I gave my mom Blue Bonnet seeds for her yard in Hampton VA. She is on a mission to have no lawn and loves flowers. The seeds say to plant in Texas August-November. But, when should she plant them i...
view the full question and answer

What to plant in northern Virginia
October 20, 2004 - We have recently purchased 10 acres in Northern Virginia, and would like to plant native wildflowers on 4 of the acres. The soil has a high clay content and is currently covered in a mixture of grasse...
view the full question and answer

Wildflower gardening in Leander , TX
September 02, 2009 - I live in Leander, Texas. I bought a couple of seed mixes last fall, and had wonderful wildflowers growing all along our fences, all spring and into the first part of the summer before it got way too ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center