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Hymenocallis coronaria by Hugh and Carol Nourse. Image may be subject to copyright.
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Hymenocallis coronaria (Le Conte) Kunth

Shoals 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.

Similar Species

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.

Related Rare Species

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.

Life History

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.

Survey Recommendations

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.

Georgia Conservation Status

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.

Conservation Management Recommendations

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

Authors of Account

Linda G. Chafin

Date Compiled or Updated

L. Chafin, Mar. 2007: original account

K. Owers, Feb. 2010: added pictures

L. Chafin, Feb 2020: updated original account.

Hymenocallis coronaria, illustration by Jean C. Putnam Hancock. Image may be subject to copyright.
Hymenocallis coronaria by Hugh and Carol Nourse. Image may be subject to copyright.
Hymenocallis coronaria by Hugh and Carol Nourse. Image may be subject to copyright.