|Red magic lily
Lycoris radiata (red spider lily, red magic lily) is a plant in the amaryllis family, Amaryllidaceae, subfamily Amaryllidoideae. Originally from China, Korea and Nepal, it was introduced into Japan and from there to the United States and elsewhere. It is considered naturalized in Seychelles and in the Ryukyu Islands. It flowers in the late summer or autumn, often in response to heavy rainfall. The common name hurricane lily refers to this characteristic, as do other common names, such as resurrection lily; these may be used for the genus as a whole.
Lycoris radiata is a bulbous perennial. It normally flowers before the leaves fully appear, on stems 30–70 centimetres (12–28 in) tall. The leaves are parallel-sided, 0.5–1 centimetre (0.20–0.39 in) wide with a paler central stripe. The red flowers are arranged in umbels. Individual flowers are irregular, with narrow segments which curve backwards, and long projecting stamens.
The presumed original form of Lycoris radiata, known as L. radiata var. pumila, occurs only in China. It is a diploid, with 11 pairs of chromosomes (2N = 22), and is able to reproduce by seed. Triploid forms, with 33 chromosomes, are known as L. radiata var. radiata. These are widespread in China and also in Japan, from where the species was introduced into cultivation in America and elsewhere. The triploid forms are sterile, and reproduce only vegetatively, via bulbs. The Japanese triploids are genetically uniform. It has been suggested that they were introduced into Japan from China along with rice cultivation.
In phylogenetic analyses based on chloroplast genes, Hori et al. found that all the other species of Lycoris they examined were nested within Lycoris radiata. They suggest that the "species" of Lycoris presently recognized may not be distinct.
The plant was first introduced into the United States in 1854 when Japanese ports were opened for US trade. Captain William Roberts, who enjoyed botany, brought back only three bulbs of the red spider lily. The bulbs were then planted by his niece who found that they do not bloom until after the first good rain in the fall season. Plants have since become naturalized in North Carolina, Texas, and many other southern states of the US. Since the Japanese forms are sterile triploids, the introduced plants were also sterile and reproduce only by bulb division.
Lycoris radiata is not frost-hardy and so can only be grown under glass or in a very sheltered position in countries like England which are subject to frost. Bulbs can be stored in a dry environment between 45–55 degrees Fahrenheit (7–13 degrees Celsius). They should be planted in the spring in full sun in well-drained soil (e.g. sandy with some clay), 8 inches (20 cm) deep, with 6–12 inches (15–30 cm) between each bulb, and left undisturbed. Plants will flower in late summer or early fall, with stems around 24–28 inches (60–70 cm) tall. Leaves follow the flowers, remaining through the winter and disappearing in early summer.
The bulbs of Lycoris radiata are very poisonous. These are mostly used in Japan, and they are used to surround their paddies and houses to keep the pest and mice away. That is why most of them grow close to rivers now. In Japan the Red Spider Lily signals the arrival of fall. Many Buddhist will use it to celebrate the arrival of fall with a ceremony at the tomb of one of their ancestors. They plant them on graves because it shows a tribute to the dead. People believe that since the Red Spider Lily is mostly associated with death that one should never give a bouquet of these flowers.
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Since these scarlet flowers usually bloom near cemeteries around the autumnal equinox, they are described in Chinese and Japanese translations of the Lotus Sutra as ominous flowers that grow in Diyu (also known as Hell), or Huángquán (Simplified Chinese: 黄泉; Traditional Chinese: 黃泉), and guide the dead into the next reincarnation.
When the flowers of Lycoris bloom, their leaves would have fallen; when their leaves grow, the flowers would have wilted. This habit gave rise to various legends. A famous one is the legend of two elves: Mañju (Simplified Chinese: 曼珠; Traditional Chinese: 曼珠), who guarded the flower, and Saka (Simplified Chinese: 沙华; Traditional Chinese: 沙華), who guarded the leaves. Out of curiosity, they defied their fate of guarding the herb alone, and managed to meet each other. At first sight, they fell in love with each other. Amaterasu, exasperated by their waywardness, separated the miserable couple, and laid a curse on them as a punishment: the flowers of Mañju shall never meet the leaves of Saka again. It was said that when the couple met after death in Diyu, they vowed to meet each other after reincarnation. However, neither of them could keep their words. In commemoration of the couple, some call the herbs 'Mañjusaka' (Simplified Chinese:曼珠沙华; Traditional Chinese: 曼珠沙華), a mixture of 'Mañju' and 'Saka', instead of their scientific name. The same name is used in Japanese, in which it is pronounced manjushage.
Some other legends have it that when you see someone that you may never meet again, these flowers, also called red spider lilies, would bloom along the path. Perhaps because of these sorrowful legends, Japanese people often used these flowers in funerals. The popular Japanese name Higanbana (彼岸花 Higan bana?) for Lycoris radiata literally means higan (the other or that shore of Sanzu River) flower, decorate and enjoyable, flower of afterlife in gokuraku jyōdo (極楽浄土 gokuraku jyōdo?).
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- The red spider lily is featured in the manhwa Bride of the Water God by Yun Mi-kyung, which evokes the legend of the lily's blossoms and leaves never meeting. When the character Nakbin was alive, she often talked to Habaek about the spider lily, which symbolizes a hopeful but tragic fate of lovers which eventually what became of them when Nakbin chose to die instead of forsaking Habaek. Despite death, their longing for each other led Nakbin to escape the world of the dead and endure a miserable existence inside the imperial palace in order to be with Habaek, only to give up a second time realizing that Habaek is already cherishing a woman other than her though he assured of never sending her away. And even after her second departure, Habaek still expressed his inability of letting her go and apologized for his selfishness for he still wishes to hold onto her no matter what. This leaves the both of them longing for each other but, can never be together for Habaek's red thread of life is already connected to Soah while Nakbin who was meant to be a passing friend as mentioned by Su Wang Mo was reincarnated as human without memories of the past.
- It was also featured in the anime, Jigoku Shoujo (Hell Girl), surrounding Enma Ai's house.
- The Plant List
- Stevens, P.F. (2001 onwards), Angiosperm Phylogeny Website: Asparagales: Amaryllidoideae
- Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
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- William Herbert. 1819. Botanical Magazine 47: pl. 2113
- L'Héritier de Brutelle, Charles Louis. 1788, Sertum Anglicum 16, as Amaryllis radiata
- Hori, TA; Hayashi, A; Sasanuma, T & Kurita, S (2006), "Genetic variations in the chloroplast genome and phylogenetic clustering of Lycoris species", Genes Genet. Syst. 81 (4): 243–253, doi:10.1266/ggs.81.243, PMID 17038796
- Red Spider Lily, The Southern Bulb Company, archived from the original on 2011-09-13, retrieved 2011-09-13
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- Evans, Erv & De Hertough, A.A., Lycoris radiata; Spider lily, Naked lily, Red spider lily, NC State University, archived from the original on 2011-09-13, retrieved 2011-09-13
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- Red Spider Lily Photo Gallery
- How to plant and care for the Red Spider Lily
- Where you can buy Red Spider Lily Bulbs
- How to know if you have Red Spider Lily poisoning