Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Texas spiderlily
Hymenocallis liriosme

Texas spiderlily
Hymenocallis liriosme

Texas spiderlily
Hymenocallis liriosme

More Wildflowers Questions

Mowing frequency of native lawn from Georgetown TX
August 18, 2012 - I have a native grass and wildflower lawn. At what frequency and when should the lawn be mowed?
view the full question and answer

Fall Flower Planting in Abilene, TX
October 14, 2014 - Are there any flowers that can be planted in the fall in Abilene Texas?
view the full question and answer

Summer-blooming Wildflowers for Wichita Falls, TX
June 08, 2013 - Can you give me a list of some summer-blooming (June, July, August, maybe September) wildflowers that I can plant in my flower beds in Wichita Falls, TX and tell me when the best time is to sow the se...
view the full question and answer

Seeding wildflowers in Dallas
June 30, 2009 - What is the best way to establish seed for wildflowers in Dallas, TX? The area does get some irrigation from rotors. Would hydromulch be the most effective option?
view the full question and answer

Plant Suggestions for Shady Site under Trees in Alabama
April 03, 2014 - I live in Montgomery, AL and have a bare area (20' x 5) that's shady and soil erosion is a problem. Grass stops growing at the drip line of the trees here. Do you have any suggestions for growing s...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.