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Hymenocallis coronaria (Le Conte) KunthShoals Spiderlily
Federal Protection: No US federal protection
State Protection: Threatened
Global Rank: G3?
State Rank: S2
Element Locations Tracked in Biotics: Yes
SWAP High Priority Species (SGCN): Yes
Element Occurrences (EOs) in Georgia: 12
Habitat Summary for element in Georgia: Rocky shoals of broad, open rivers
Perennial herb with a large, round bulb that lodges and roots among rocks in rocky shoals. Its leaves are 15 - 37 inches (38 - 95 cm) long, erect, leathery, strap-like, and deciduous. The flower stalk is 15 - 49 inches (40 - 125 cm) tall, erect, stout, two-edged, topped with 3 - 12 flower buds that usually open one per day. Flowers are showy and fragrant, consisting of a green tube, 6 narrow, white segments (tepals) up to 4 inches long and radiating up and outward, and a showy membrane-like corona (staminal cup), 2 - 3.3 inches (5 - 8.5 cm) across, white with a yellowish-green eye, broadly funnel- or cup-shaped, toothed, with 6 attached stamens. Fruits are about 1.2 inch (3 cm) broad, rounded, green, and one-seeded.
Several similar species of Hymenocallis grow on floodplains and moist lower slopes (Hymenocallis occidentalis, H. choctawensis, H. duvalensis) and in freshwater tidal marshes (Hymenocallis crassifolia) in Georgia, but no other Hymenocallis species occurs in rocky shoals of large Piedmont streams. Swamp-lily (Crinum americanum), a common wetland plant in the Coastal Plain, has 2 - 6 flowers per stalk, flowers with long white tepals but no corona, and tiny teeth along the leaf margins.
Simpson’s Rain-lily (Zephyranthes simpsonii, Special Concern) occurs in pine flatwoods in the Coastal Plain. For more information, see: https://www.georgiabiodiversity.org/natels/profile?es_id=19444on this website.
Rocky shoals of large streams and rivers in the Piedmont.
Shoals Spider-lily is a perennial herb that reproduces sexually by seed as well as vegetatively by production of bulblets (offsets from the bulb of the parent plant). One flower opens per day on a given plant and remains open overnight, attracting pollinator moths. During the late afternoon and the following morning and midday, the flowers are also visited by butterflies, skippers, honeybees, bumble bees, and hummingbirds (which may only be nectar robbers). Viewed under black (ultraviolet) light, the yellow "eye" at the center of the flower is revealed as a red nectar guide. The flowers also self-pollinate; as the flowers begin to wither in the morning the stigma and anthers are brought into contact. Interestingly, red-winged blackbirds may also act as pollinators as they forage for insects on the face of the flowers. Each pollinated flower produces a large, heavy fruit that drops into the water when mature and either lodges in place or is carried by water currents and lodged in crevices among rocks downstream.
Surveys are best conducted during flowering (mid-May–early June) although plants are conspicuous throughout the growing season.
Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina. This species is known as Cahaba Lily in Alabama and Catawba Lily in South Carolina, named after the rivers where the plants occur in large numbers.
Stream impoundment. Excessive changes in flow rates in dammed rivers: high water dislodges seeds, seedlings, and clumps of plants, while low water allows seedlings to dry out and die and discourages seed germination. Degradation of water quality by erosion, sedimentation, and pollution runoff into streams. Deer browsing.
Hymenocallis coronaria is ranked S2 by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, indicating that it is imperiled in the state. Twelve populations are known and eight have been confirmed since 2000. Although 3 occur on conservation lands, they are vulnerable to off-site disturbances, such as pollution, erosion, sedimentation, and dam building.
Avoid damming streams and prevent erosion, sedimentation, and pesticide runoff into streams. Reduce the size of Georgia's deer herd.
Campbell, J.W., A.M. Starring, G. L. Smith. 2014. Flower visitors of Hymenocallis coronaria (Rocky Shoals Spider-lily) of Landsford Canal State Park, South Carolina, USA. https://bioone.org/journals/Natural-Areas-Journal/volume-34/issue-3/043.034.0316/Flower-Visitors-of-Hymenocallis-coronaria-Rocky-Shoals-Spider-lily-of/10.3375/043.034.0316.full
Chafin, L.G. 2007. Field guide to the rare plants of Georgia. State Botanical Garden of Georgia and University of Georgia Press, Athens.
Davenport, L.J. 1989. Reproductive biology of the Cahaba lily (Hymenocallis coronaria). American Journal of Botany Abstracts 76(6): 97-98. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2444836?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents
Davenport, L.J. 1990. The distinct nature of Hymenocallis coronaria. American Journal of Botany Abstracts 77(6): 126. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2444653?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents
Davenport, L.J. 1990. The Cahaba lily. Alabama Heritage 16: 24-31. https://www.alabamaheritage.com/issue-16-spring-1990.html
Smith, G.L. and W.S. Flory. 2003. Hymenocallis coronaria species account. Flora of North America. Vol. 26. Oxford University Press, New York. http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=242101673
GADNR. 2020. Element occurrence records for Hymenocallis coronaria. Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division, Social Circle, Georgia.
Gordon, J.E. and D.J. Wear. 2011. Parameters affecting the success of protected Shoals Spider Lily, Hymenocallis coronaria, in the Savannah River Basin, Georgia. Natural Areas Journal 31(1): 34-42. https://doi.org/10.3375/043.031.0105
Joye, D.B. and G. Smith. 1993. Biosystematic investigations of a hybrid between Hymenocallis occidentalis and Hymenocallis coronaria. Cancas 39(1): 95-103.
Markwith, S.H. and M.J. Scanlon. 2007. Multiscale analysis of Hymenocallis coronaria (Amaryllidaceae): genetic diversity, genetic structure, and gene movement under the influence of unidirectional stream flow. American Journal of Botany 94(2): 151-160.
NatureServe. 2019. Hymenocallis coronaria comprehensive report. NatureServe Explorer. Arlington, Virginia. http://explorer.natureserve.org/servlet/NatureServe?searchName=Hymenocallis+coronaria
Patrick, T.S., J.R. Allison, and G.A. Krakow. 1995. Protected plants of Georgia. Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Program, Social Circle.
Sanders, B. 2004. William Bartram's botanical discoveries in Georgia. Tipularia, Journal of the Georgia Botanical Society 19: 8-17.
Smith, G.L. and M.A. Garland. 2003. Nomenclature of Hymenocallis taxa (Amaryllidaceae) in the southeastern United States. Taxon 52: 805-817. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3647354?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents
Smith, G.L., W.S. Flory, and J.B. Nelson. 1990. Cytotaxonomic studies on Hymenocallis coronaria (LeConte) Kunth in South Carolina Piedmont river systems. ASB Bulletin 37: 141.
Weakley, A.S. 2015. Flora of the southern and mid-Atlantic States. University of North Carolina Herbarium, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. http://www.herbarium.unc.edu/flora.htm
Linda G. Chafin
L. Chafin, Mar. 2007: original account
K. Owers, Feb. 2010: added pictures
L. Chafin, Feb 2020: updated original account.