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Hymenocallis caribaea
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Subfamily: Amaryllidoideae
Genus: Hymenocallis

See text.

Hymenocallis /ˌhmɨnəˈkælɪs/[2] (US) or /ˌhmɛnˈkælɪs/[3] (UK) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Amaryllidaceae, subfamily Amaryllidoideae.[4] It contains more than 60 species of herbaceous bulbous perennials native to grasslands, wetlands and rocky habitats[5] in tropical and subtropical America.[6]

The flower stalks arise from basal rosettes of strap-shaped leaves. The terminal clusters of fragrant flowers are green, white or yellow, and can be large and spectacular. The genus name is derived from the Greek words ὑμήν (hymen), meaning "membrane", and καλός (kalos), meaning "beautiful". It refers to the curious shape of the flowers, which consist of six narrow, curved petals attached to a shallow cup that is formed from the fused stamens. The effect is of a spidery daffodil or lily, thus explaining the common name "spider lily" for some species.[5]


The genus Hymenocallis was created by Richard Anthony Salisbury in 1812,[6] when he separated out a number of species formerly placed in Pancratium, starting with Hymenocallis littoralis. The main reason for the separation was that the fruits have only two seeds in each locule. Salisbury explained the name as referring to the "beautiful membrane which connects the filaments."[7]


As of October 2011, the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families accepts 64 species:[6][8]

Formerly placed here[edit]


Most Hymenocallis must be grown in a warm greenhouse or in a sheltered sunny spot where the ground does not freeze. The North American species H. occidentalis is found as far north as southwestern Indiana where winters can reach 0 °F (−18 °C).[10] They like good drainage and grow well in a soil rich with organic matter. The following species and hybrids are found in cultivation:-[5]

  • H. amancaes
  • H. caribaea
  • H. harrisiana
  • H. littoralis
  • H. × macrostephana[11] (H. narcissiflora × H. speciosa)      
  • H. narcissiflora
  • H. speciosa
  • H. 'Sulphur Queen'


  1. ^ "Genus: Hymenocallis Salisb.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2010-01-27. Retrieved 2014-05-07. 
  2. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  3. ^ Johnson, A.T. & Smith, H.A. (1972), Plant Names Simplified : Their Pronunciation Derivation & Meaning, Buckenhill, Herefordshire: Landsmans Bookshop, ISBN 978-0-900513-04-6 
  4. ^ Stevens, P.F. (2001 onwards), Angiosperm Phylogeny Website: Asparagales: Amaryllidoideae 
  5. ^ a b c RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964. 
  6. ^ a b c WCSP (2011), World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, retrieved 2011-10-21 , search for "Hymenocallis"
  7. ^ Salisbury, R.A. (1812), Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London 1: 338 ; see page 338 in the third edition published in 1820.
  8. ^ "Hymenocallis". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2014-05-07. 
  9. ^ "GRIN Species Records of Hymenocallis". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2014-05-07. 
  10. ^ "BONAP's North American Plant Atlas". The Biota of North America Program. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  11. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - '' ". Retrieved 23 June 2013.