Zephyranthes atamasca vs. Z. simpsonii

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@starpower.net
Wed, 27 Apr 2005 06:09:10 PDT
Steve, I don't know the answer to your question about the distinctions
between Zephyranthes atamasco and Z. simpsonii.

But you post prompted me to tell an atamasco lily story. Last weekend I had
the chance to visit a famous garden in northern North Carolina. About a half
hour north of our destination, as we sailed down the two lane road at 55
mph, I let out a whoop: I thought I had seen atamasco lilies blooming by the
roadside. Because we had a scheduled appointment with our host, my
companions were reluctant to stop. As we got farther and farther away from
the site, I began to doubt what I had seen. The flowers seemed a bit big for
Zephyranthes atamasco, at least as I had known it. 

Our host, who grows an amazing array of plants very well, surprised my by
not having Z. atamasco - although several other Zephyranthes were present in
the garden. 

On the return trip I keep my eyes peeled for the roadside plants. Luckily we
found them. As we approached the site, I had a growing sense that I was
about to be disappointed: maybe what I saw were plastic Easter lilies
someone had put out on the lawn. But no, they were atamasco lilies, really
big, shapely, beautiful atamasco lilies. The fragrance was wonderful. 

It was a windy day, and some of the plants had assumed a posture which made
it easy to see why so many people call this the Easter lily. I've posted a
photo of these plants (the ones which were doing the Easter lily imitation)
to the wiki:


Those of you who know this genus well may be able to answer a question for
me. My impression is that Z. atamasco has the largest flowers of the genus.
Is that true?

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where my atamasco lilies have
yet to bloom this year. 

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