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Spider lily
Temporal range: 24.46 –0 Ma Late Oligocene – Recent[1]
Hymenocallis caribaea flower
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Subfamily: Amaryllidoideae
Genus: Hymenocallis
Type species
Hymenocallis littoralis
(Jacq.) Salisb.[4][5]
  • Liriopsis Rchb.
  • Choretis Herb.
  • Nemepiodon Raf.
  • Siphotoma Raf.
  • Tomodon Raf.
  • Troxistemon Raf.

Hymenocallis /ˌhmɪnəˈkælɪs/[7] (US) or /ˌhmɛnˈkælɪs/[8] (UK) is a genus of flowering plants in the amaryllis family native to the Americas.[9]

Hymenocallis contains more than 60 species of herbaceous bulbous perennials native to the southeastern United States, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and northern South America. Some species are cultivated as ornamentals in warm nations around the globe, and a few have become naturalized in parts of Africa and on various tropical islands.[6] Many of the species from the Caribbean and from the southeastern United States inhabit wet areas such as marshes, streambanks, and seashores. Some species even have floating seeds. Some of the Mexican species, in contrast, grow on grassy slopes in hills and mountains.[10]

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".[10]


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."[11]


Texas spiderlily – Hymenocallis liriosme

As of September 2014, the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families accepts 65 species:[6][12][13]

  1. Hymenocallis acutifolia (Herb. ex Sims) Sweet - Mexico
  2. Hymenocallis araniflora T.M.Howard - Sinaloa, Nayarit
  3. Hymenocallis arenicola Northr. - Bahamas, Greater Antilles
  4. Hymenocallis astrostephana T.M.Howard - Guerrero
  5. Hymenocallis azteciana Traub - Jalisco, Nayarit, Zacatecas
  6. Hymenocallis baumlii Ravenna - Chiapas
  7. Hymenocallis bolivariana Traub - Monagas in Venezuela
  8. Hymenocallis caribaea (L.) Herb. – Caribbean spiderlily - West Indies
  9. Hymenocallis choctawensis Traub – Choctaw spiderlily - Louisiana to Florida Panhandle
  10. Hymenocallis choretis Hemsl. - southern Mexico
  11. Hymenocallis cleo Ravenna - Chiapas
  12. Hymenocallis clivorum Laferr. - Sonora
  13. Hymenocallis concinna Baker - Jalisco
  14. Hymenocallis cordifolia Micheli - Guerrero
  15. Hymenocallis coronaria (Leconte) Kunth – Cahaba lily - South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama
  16. Hymenocallis crassifolia Herb. - South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida
  17. Hymenocallis durangoensis T.M.Howard - Durango
  18. Hymenocallis duvalensis Traub ex Laferr. – Dixie spiderlily - Georgia, Florida
  19. Hymenocallis eucharidifolia Baker - Guerrero, Oaxaca
  20. Hymenocallis fragrans (Salisb.) Salisb. - Jamaica
  21. Hymenocallis franklinensis Ger.L.Sm. – Franklin spiderlily - Florida Panhandle
  22. Hymenocallis gholsonii G.Lom.Sm. & Garland - Florida Panhandle
  23. Hymenocallis glauca (Zucc.) M.Roem. - central + southern Mexico
  24. Hymenocallis godfreyi G.L.Sm. & Darst – Godfrey's spiderlily - Florida Panhandle
  25. Hymenocallis graminifolia Greenm. - Morelos
  26. Hymenocallis guatemalensis Traub - Guatemala
  27. Hymenocallis guerreroensis T.M.Howard - Guerrero
  28. Hymenocallis harrisiana Herb. - central + southern Mexico
  29. Hymenocallis henryae Traub – Henry's spiderlily - Florida Panhandle
  30. Hymenocallis howardii Bauml - western Mexico
  31. Hymenocallis imperialis T.M.Howard - San Luis Potosí, Hidalgo
  32. Hymenocallis incaica Ravenna - Peru
  33. Hymenocallis jaliscensis M.E.Jones - Jalisco, Nayarit
  34. Hymenocallis latifolia (Mill.) M.Roem. – perfumed spiderlily - West Indies, Florida
  35. Hymenocallis leavenworthii (Standl. & Steyerm.) Bauml - Michoacán
  36. Hymenocallis lehmilleri T.M.Howard - Guerrero
  37. Hymenocallis limaensis Traub - Lima Province in Peru
  38. Hymenocallis liriosme (Raf.) Shinners – Texan spiderlily (yellow center) - south-central United States
  39. Hymenocallis littoralis (Jacq.) Salisb. - Mexico, Central America, northern South America
  40. Hymenocallis lobata Klotzsch - Venezuela
  41. Hymenocallis longibracteata Hochr. - Veracruz
  42. Hymenocallis maximilianii T.M.Howard - Guerrero
  43. Hymenocallis multiflora Vargas - Peru
  44. Hymenocallis occidentalis (Leconte) Kunth - southeastern + south-central United States
  45. Hymenocallis ornata (C.D.Bouché) M.Roem. - Guatemala
  46. Hymenocallis ovata (Mill.) M.Roem. - Cuba
  47. Hymenocallis palmeri S.Watson – alligator lily (yellow center) - Florida
  48. Hymenocallis partita Ravenna - Chiapas
  49. Hymenocallis phalangidis Bauml - Nayarit
  50. Hymenocallis pimana Laferr. - Chihuahua, Sonora
  51. Hymenocallis portamonetensis Ravenna - Chiapas
  52. Hymenocallis praticola Britton & P.Wilson - Cuba
  53. Hymenocallis proterantha Bauml - southern Mexico
  54. Hymenocallis pumila Bauml - Jalisco, Colima
  55. Hymenocallis puntagordensis Traub – Punta Gordo spiderlily - southern Florida
  56. Hymenocallis pygmaea Traub - North Carolina, South Carolina
  57. Hymenocallis rotata (Ker Gawl.) Herb. – streambank spiderlily - northern Florida
  58. Hymenocallis schizostephana Worsley - Brazil but extinct
  59. Hymenocallis sonorensis Standl. - Sonora, Sinaloa, Nayarit
  60. Hymenocallis speciosa (L.f. ex Salisb.) Salisb. – green-tinge spiderlily - Windward Islands
  61. Hymenocallis tridentata Small - Florida
  62. Hymenocallis tubiflora Salisb. - Trinidad, Venezuela, Guianas, northwestern Brazil
  63. Hymenocallis vasconcelosii García-Mend. - Oaxaca, Puebla
  64. Hymenocallis venezuelensis Traub - Venezuela
  65. Hymenocallis woelfleana T.M.Howard - Durango, Sinaloa, Nayarit
Formerly included[6]

Numerous names have been coined for species once considered members of Hymenocallis but now regarded as better suited to other genera. Most of the species are native to South America. Such genera include Clinanthus, Eucharis, Ismene, Leptochiton and Pancratium. Below are some examples of these species:


It is closely related to Ismene, to which it shared a common ancestor 26.14 million years ago. It is the sister group to Leptochiton, from which it separated 24.46 million years ago.[1]






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).[14] They like good drainage and grow well in a soil rich with organic matter. The following species and hybrids are found in cultivation:-[10]

  • H. amancaes
  • H. caribaea
  • H. harrisiana
  • H. littoralis
  • H. × macrostephana[15] (H. narcissiflora × H. speciosa)      
  • H. narcissiflora
  • H. speciosa
  • H. 'Sulphur Queen'

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Meerow, A. W., Gardner, E. M., & Nakamura, K. (2020). "Phylogenomics of the Andean tetraploid clade of the American Amaryllidaceae (subfamily Amaryllidoideae): unlocking a polyploid generic radiation abetted by continental geodynamics." Frontiers in Plant Science, 11, 582422.
  2. ^ "Genus: Hymenocallis Salisb". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2010-01-27. Archived from the original on 2014-05-08. Retrieved 2014-05-07.
  3. ^ Salisbury, Richard Anthony. 1812. Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London 1: 338
  4. ^ lectotype designated by N. L. Britton & A. Brown, Ill. Fl. N.U.S. ed. 2. 1: 533 (1913)
  5. ^ Tropicos, Hymenocallis Salisb.
  6. ^ a b c d e WCSP (2014), World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, retrieved 2014-09-04, search for "Hymenocallis"
  7. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  8. ^ Johnson, A.T.; Smith, H.A. & Stockdale, A.P. (2019), Plant Names Simplified : Their Pronunciation Derivation & Meaning, Sheffield, Yorkshire: 5M Publishing, ISBN 9781910455067, p. 76
  9. ^ Stevens, P.F., Angiosperm Phylogeny Website: Asparagales: Amaryllidoideae
  10. ^ a b c RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 978-1405332965.
  11. ^ Salisbury, R.A. (1812), Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London, 1: 338 {{citation}}: Missing or empty |title= (help); see page 338 in the third edition published in 1820.
  12. ^ "Hymenocallis". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2014-05-07.
  13. ^ Tapia-Campos, E, JM Rodriguez-Dominguez, M. M. Revuelta-Arreola, J.M. van Tuyl, R. Barbra-Gonzolez. 2013. Mexican geophytes II: the genera Hymenocallis, Sprekelia, and Zephyranthes. Floriculture and Ornamental Biology 6 (Special Issue 1): 129-139.
  14. ^ "BONAP's North American Plant Atlas". The Biota of North America Program. Archived from the original on 28 June 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  15. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - '' ". Retrieved 23 June 2013.