Friday, May 30, 2014

Flower Friday: When is a lily not a lily? When it's Crinum americanum!

Photo by Stacey Matrazzo
String lily (Crinum americanum)

Also known as seven sisters or swamp lily, the string lily was once categorized in the Lily (or Liliaceae) family, but is now known to be more closely related to the Amaryllis (Amarylidaceae) family. It is an emergent perennial wildflower found in wet hammocks, marshes, swamps, wetland edges, and along streams and rivers throughout Florida and the southeast United States. Its large white flowers bear long, strap-like petals and conspicuous red stamens. The flowers are showy and fragrant. Leaves are also strap-like and are dark green. Flower stalks and leaves grow directly from a bulb. The bulbs and leaves are poisonous to humans, but are a favorite treat of lubber grasshoppers.

Family: Amaryllidaceae (Amaryllis) (were once placed in the Lily or Liliaceae family, but have since been moved to the Amaryllis family)
: North, Central and South Florida (Zones 8–11)
: Requires wet, rich soil
: Full sun to partial shade
Growth habit
: 2–3 feet tall
Garden tips
: The string lily is often confused with its cousin, the spider lily (Hymenocallis sp.) as they look very similar and grow in the same conditions. To tell the difference, look at the petals. The string lily’s petals are distinctly separate, while the spider lily’s petals are connected. Both make beautiful additions to wet landscapes, including along retention ponds.

To see where string lilies occur naturally, visit http://www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=2282.

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