Hymenocallis

The New World genus Hymenocallis Salisbury (Amaryllidaceae), recognized as a distinct genus since 1812, is composed of roughly 70 to 80 species. The native habitats range in the United States from Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia, south to the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and Mexico where the genus explodes; the majority of the species occur in Central America and radiate down into the northern portions of South America (Venezuela, Guyana, and Brazil) as well. This genus was the subject of the PBS list topic of the week in April 2004. Kevin Preuss provided the introductions in two parts. This opening paragraph was taken from the beginning of the first post. See Introduction--Part One Introduction--Part Two

The three closely related genera once classified as Hymenocallis are Ismene, Elisena, and Leptochiton. Ismene, Elisena and Pseudostenomesson are now considered subgenera of Ismene. For the description of the difference between Ismene and Hymenocallis consult the Ismene wiki page. Leptochiton (the former Hymenocallis quitoensis and Hymenocallis heliantha) is recognized as a distinct genus. Ismene Hybrids includes hybrid plants that are part of the Hymenocallis complex including the genera Elisena, Ismene, Hymenocallis, and Leptochiton. The plants known as Hymenocallis × festalis and Hymenocallis × spofforthiae 'Sulphur Queen' will be found on this page.

Seeds are fleshy and tend to be of odd shape and can vary quite a bit in size on a single pod. When the seeds mature, just toss them on the surface of the pot beneath the parent plants. Keep the potting mix moist. Germination can take up to 3-4 months (Dave Lehmiller, Stephen Hopkins). Some growers prefer to plant the seeds half-way into the mix. Early spring bloomers such as H. liriosme, H. coronaria, H. crassifolia, etc... sprout within a month or so while the late season bloomers may not sprout until the following spring (Stephen Hopkins).


Hymenocallis acutifolia is native to Mexico. It has narrow foliage and blooms from late summer through autumn. Photos taken August 2007 by Jay Yourch.

Hymenocallis acutifolia, Jay YourchHymenocallis acutifolia, Jay YourchHymenocallis acutifolia, Jay Yourch

Hymenocallis azteciana is native to western Mexico. Photos from Alessandro Marinello.

Hymenocallis azteciana, Alessandro MarinelloHymenocallis azteciana, Alessandro Marinello

Hymenocallis caribaea 'Variegata' has attractive grayish green foliage with wide creamy white margins. Photos taken August 2007 by Jay Yourch.

Hymenocallis caribaea 'Variegata', Jay YourchHymenocallis caribaea 'Variegata', Jay YourchHymenocallis caribaea 'Variegata', Jay Yourch

Hymenocallis eucharidifolia is native to Mexico. A beautiful flower on a beautiful plant. Bloomed at the same time as H. sonorensis. Photos taken September 2004 by Lee Poulsen.

Hymenocallis eucharidifolia, Lee PoulsenHymenocallis eucharidifolia, Lee Poulsen

Hymenocallis durangoensis is a species from Mexico. Photos from Alessandro Marinello.

Hymenocallis durangoensis, Alessandro MarinelloHymenocallis durangoensis, Alessandro MarinelloHymenocallis durangoensis, Alessandro Marinello

Hymenocallis harrisiana is a deciduous species from Mexico. The strap shaped leaves are glaucous, as it comes from an arid area. The flower has a small scented corona (crown). Each flower lasts only one night. Photos taken by Alberto Grossi and Jay Yourch.

Hymenocallis harrisiana, photo by Alberto GrossiCloseup of Hymenocallis harrisiana taken July 2006 by Jay YourchHymenocallis harrisiana blooming plant, taken July 2006 by Jay Yourch

Hymenocallis liriosme growing in the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. It is native to the southern US in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Photos 1-2 of plants in bloom taken April 2004 by Lee Poulsen. Photo 2 of a bulb and seeds supplied by Joe Shaw of Conroe, Texas, was taken by Jim McKenney. Two of the seeds are already germinating.

Hymenocallis liriosme, Lee PoulsenHymenocallis liriosme, Lee PoulsenHymenocallis liriosme seeds, photo by Jim McKenney

The photos below were taken by Nhu Nguyen of landscaping plants in an otherwise horticulturally bleak area of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Hymenocallis liriosme, Nhu NguyenHymenocallis liriosme, Nhu NguyenHymenocallis liriosme, Nhu NguyenHymenocallis liriosme, Nhu Nguyen

Hymenocallis littoralis is a vigorous evergreen species from Mexico and Guatemala which grows with its roots in the water during the warm growing season, making a good garden subject in warm climates. It requires protection during cold winters. The lovely white flowers have long narrow reflexed petals behind a central cup. Several flowers are carried on each sturdy 70-90 cm. stem. Photos by Bill Dijk and Alberto Grossi.

Hymenocallis littoralis, photo taken by Bill DijkHymenocallis littoralis, photo taken by Alberto Grossi

Hymenocallis maximillianii (syn. hymenocallis maximiliani) is native to Mexico. It has compact, narrow, erect, foliage and gracefully proportioned flowers. Photos taken August 2005 by Jay Yourch.

Hymenocallis maximillianii umbel, Jay YourchHymenocallis maximillianii blooming plant, Jay Yourch

Hymenocallis occidentalis is native to the Eastern United States and blooms in late summer. Depending on the plant and the growing environment the leaves may be absent, like a Lycoris, or present at bloom time. Photos taken August 2006 by Jay Yourch.

Hymenocallis occidentalis umbel, Jay YourchHymenocallis occidentalis blooming plant, Jay Yourch

Hymenocallis riparia is native to Mexico. It's a small plant with narrow, spreading foliage. Photos taken July 2007 by Jay Yourch.

Hymenocallis riparia, Jay YourchHymenocallis riparia, Jay YourchHymenocallis riparia, Jay Yourch

Hymenocallis 'Sister of Tropical Giant' has flowers like 'Tropical Giant', but all six segments recurve equally. The foliage is broad and grayish green instead of the dark green, glossy foliage of 'Tropical Giant'. Photos taken by Jay Yourch.

Closeup of Hymenocallis 'Sister of Tropical Giant', Jay YourchProfile of Hymenocallis 'Sister of Tropical Giant', Jay YourchHymenocallis 'Sister of Tropical Giant' umbel, Jay YourchHymenocallis 'Sister of Tropical Giant' blooming plant, Jay Yourch

Hymenocallis sonorensis is found along streams and valleys throughout Sonora, Mexico. The first photo taken September 2003, but the plant grew even larger and had several scapes in September 2004. Photos by Lee Poulsen.

Hymenocallis sonorensis umbel in 2003, Lee PoulsenHymenocallis sonorensis umbel in 2004, Lee PoulsenHymenocallis sonorensis blooming plant in 2004, Lee Poulsen

Hymenocallis spp. Below are three unidentified species. Help identifying them would be appreciated.

Hymenocallis sp. , photo by Kevin Preuss of a plant collected in Guatemala by Dr. Robert Dressler.

Hymenocallis sp. ex Guatemala, Kevin Preuss

Hymenocallis sp., possibly Hymenocallis littoralis from Out Islands of Bahamas: 26 36' 13.76" N, 77 00' 37.17" W elev. 15'. Grown on active dune with up to 6" increase in dune height annually. Note extensions at bottom of bulb. Out of almost 100 plants rescued from the ocean after hurricane Jeanne, most had these extensions or evidence that they had snapped off. It looks like the extension acts to keep the bulb near the surface as sand builds up on the dune. Interesting that the oldest section resembles a rhizome. Photos by Phil Andrews.

Hymenocallis sp. showing extensions, Phil AndrewsHymenocallis sp., Phil Andrews

Hymenocallis sp. received as Hymenocallis philipinas by Alessandro Marinello. The bulb measured 9 cm in diameter with leaves 7 cm wide. It bloomed in October. It was suggested to be Hymenocallis littoralis.

Hymenocallis sp., Alessandro Marinello

Hymenocallis traubii is a spring-blooming species native to Florida. It is a small plant with large flowers. Photo taken May 2006 by Jay Yourch.

Hymenocallis traubii umbel, Jay Yourch

Hymenocallis 'Tropical Giant' has broad, glossy, stiff, dark green foliage and nicely proportioned flowers. Note how three of the six segments display more pronounced recurvature. Photos taken by Jay Yourch.

Closeup of Hymenocallis 'Tropical Giant', Jay YourchCloseup of Hymenocallis 'Tropical Giant', Jay YourchCloseup of Hymenocallis 'Tropical Giant', Jay YourchHymenocallis 'Tropical Giant', Jay Yourch

Hymenocallis tubiflora is from South America, photos by Kevin Preuss and Jay Yourch.

Closeup of Hymenocallis tubiflora, Jay YourchHymenocallis tubiflora umbel, Jay YourchHymenocallis tubiflora flowering plant, Jay YourchHymenocallis tubiflora, Kevin Preuss

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Page last modified on March 16, 2014, at 01:09 PM