Scientific name

Hymenocallis Salis.

Common names

spider lily



Native distribution

southeastern and central United States, West Indies, Mexico, Central America and South America

Species cultivated

(ten species plus cultivated varieties and hybrids available as pond or bog plants)

Hymenocallis acutifolia (Herb. ex Sims) Sweet

H. caribaea (L.) Herb.

H. clivorum Laferr.

H. coronaria (Leconte) Kunth

H. latifolia (Mill.) M.Roem.

H. liriosme (Raf.) Shinners

H. litorallis (Jacq.) Salisb.

H. maximiliani T.M.Howard

H. occidentalis (Leconte) Kunth

H. speciosa (L.f. ex Salisb.) Salisb.

Adventive distribution

information not available

Weed status

not weedy


amphibious or emergent in shallow waters, geophytic

Brief description

Herbaceous bulb plant; bulb ovoid or globose, tunica brown, often extending onto subterranean neck; roots fleshy. Leaves basal on bulb; sessile, leaf blade linear or oblanceolate, coriaceous; apex acute; base straight; margin entire; venation parallel or midrib only. Inflorescence an axillary umbel; scape typically solitary, compressed; bracts 2-3, triangular, ovate or lanceolate; floral bracts subulate to lanceolate. Flowers distinct, fragrant; pedicellate; tepals linear, reflexed or ascending, basally fused into a tube, white; androecium basally fused into corona, funnelform or rotate, margin dentate or lacerate, white; filaments free above, erect to incurved, filiform, green; anthers yellow or orange; style exserted beyond stamens, filiform; stigma capitate.

Natural habitat

sunny locations along rivers, streams, and swamps, in areas that are shallowly flooded or remain wet during the rainy season

Additional comments

Similar moprhologically to Crinum. Most Hymenocallis species are amphibious and tolerate extended periods of submersion. Because this genus contains various alkaloids, it is not recommended that plant parts be eaten or even touched if allergic. It is difficult to identify species from herbarium specimens; use fresh material whenever possible.