Explore Plants

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
    
 

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


Carolina spiderlily
Hymenocallis caroliniana

Carolina spiderlily
Hymenocallis caroliniana

Carolina spiderlily
Hymenocallis caroliniana

Spring spiderlily
Hymenocallis liriosme

Spring spiderlily
Hymenocallis liriosme

Spring spiderlily
Hymenocallis liriosme

More Wildflowers Questions

Wildflowers for hill with erosion in San Carlos, CA
September 22, 2012 - What wildflowers would you suggest for our hills that have erosion, low ground cover in San Carlos, California?
view the full question and answer

Wildflower seeds coming up early
October 05, 2008 - I purchased several wildflower seeds packages. Everything I read about when to plant, suggest planting in September or October in my area. This is what I did. I planted only about 2 weeks ago. Som...
view the full question and answer

Wildflower seeds affected by mulch in Austin
October 24, 2010 - I have a small wildflower garden in my central Austin yard. In early summer, I had some extra mulch and put it in this garden. Now I'm thinking that was a mistake. The bed has re-seeded itself for se...
view the full question and answer

List of most popular wildflowers in Texas Hill Country from Austin
January 15, 2011 - Can you please tell me the top 10 wildflowers found in the Texas hill country..by numbers, not popularity?
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for plants for a bird/small wildlife refuge in Wichita Co, TX.
August 26, 2011 - With our continuing drought in North Texas, I'm planning to transform my small backyard into a bird/small wildlife "refuge". What types of native plants and grasses can I plant in dry, hot Wichita ...
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.